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.
You should try to get a sample of the older versions at cask strength. Those are ridiculously good.
Working on getting a sample 🙂
Agree – the older 25 year old cask strengths are way more complex than the 18 (which I agree is a fine whisky – at least in the older batches – I hear the newer ones are less good but haven’t tasted). They were until recently a relative bargain too…
Of course it’s shy. In a way old Islay whisky (or other peated whisky for that matter) is always shy when you compare it to younger versions, isn’t that what you’re saying here? I mean, Lagavulin 30 will also disappoint you if you’re expecting a “bigger” version of the regular 16.
In the article you make it seem like it was downgraded and therefore now suddenly less intense and less good. You should probably compare it to an older version before saying that.
Ruben, thanks for taking the time to comment.
Actually, that’s not what I said.
1. Shy referred to being closed and opening up only a little, not in any way a criticism of vibrancy or peat contents. It would obviously be less peated, and I expect it to be more subdued. But I would also expect other aromas to come forth, for the nosing experience to be an evolving one and for some layers to show themselves in an older and more complex whisky. That is what I referred to, not a “bigger” Talisker 10. I did, however, highlight this in my conclusion, and perhaps a misunderstanding of my expectation could have arisen in reading.
2. Going from cask strength to standard strength is a downgrade. I didn’t say it was less good than the cask strength version, as I very clearly stated that I haven’t tasted it. It would be foolish of me to claim that it was “less good”. It was, however, downgraded both in ABV and in presentation, which is all I said.
My only real criticism of this expression is it’s being very unbalanced and pretty one dimensional.
I really appreciate you taking the time to comment, your blog is an inspiration to me!
I second that comment about the older cask strength versions. I also third, fourth, and fifth it! The 2005 is my all time favorite, it’s a huge salty spicy peaty masterpiece. It’s too bad that the new releases aren’t in the same league, particularly since they’re selling for $400 a bottle now!!! If you’re in NYC, come by for a taste of the 2005! /SmokyBeast.. (we had the exact same perspective on our reviews by the way:
Thanks for the invite, Smokybeast 🙂