I tasted the 25 year old on two occasions, both of which were batches of the newer 25 year old, bottled at 45.8% ABV. The first (the 2011 version) left me pretty unimpressed, but it was tasted with some seriously fabulous whisky all around it – some of it at cask strength, so it might not have had the chance to really shine. Thus, when we tasted the 2013 bottling at the MMI Whisky Club Talisker night with Adaya Lange of Diageo’s local importers, IBBL Spirit, I took the opportunity to re taste it within the Talisker framework. By the way, I should have a sample of the higher strength arriving in the near future, and I’ll publish a review on it when I do.
Also, one must note that this whisky is made in relatively small batches, circa 6000 bottles, and there is clearly (well, at least according to my memory and tasting notes) a difference between them. Thus, my notes in this post refer to the 2013 version.
While being unequivocally enthusiastic about the 18 year old (reviewed here), I’m far less clear about the 25 year old. For starters, it’s far sweeter and less balanced than the fabulous 18, with honey as the absolutely dominant note. The 2011 version had some sour citrus on the palate (a plus to me) which was not present here, so at least as far as consistency goes, this expression isn’t scoring high. The practical meaning of this is, of course, that you should personally taste or get specific opinions about the batch you’re buying (you can tell which batch it is by the number of bottles produced).
Since 2009, Talisker “downgraded” the 25 year old, taking it down from cask strength to “Talisker strength” (45.8%) and they seriously toned down the packaging compare this with this), I’m told it was a real cracker back then, and as I said, I’ll report when I get my hands on some 🙂
Talisker 25 (2013 – Batch of 5772 Bottles) (45.8% ABV)
Appearance: Deep gold, thin and slow forming legs.
Nose: Honey and light peat, the honey goes really deep. Some warm wood spices, but less spicy than the 18 year old, with notes I’d associate with sherry in there. Salt joins in a bit after, with a citrus note developing and with it, hints of vanilla.
Palate: Dominantly sweet honey with almost no peat. Some pepper on the sides of the palate and back of the tongue, salt and light notes of fresh citrus.
Linger: Peat and spice in the back of the throat, gentle, yet long. Some sweetness in mouth, with a lot of residual salt.
This whisky plays shy and hard to get. It takes a very long time to open up (I didn’t add water) and isn’t as willing to “play ball” as the 18 is.
It’s far less balanced than the 18 year old, and by virtue of that alone, offers a lower VFM.