The Islands of Skye, Jura, Arran, Mull and Orkney carry similarities to Islay's single malts with brine and smoke. However, they often champion tones of lighter peat, more citrus and a honey.
Today we venture again to the the Isle of Skye to examine a relatively unique malt from a another distillery close to my heart, Talisker. As Robert Louis Stevenson put it, "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker". The distillery is known for its classic maritime single malts, usually aged in bourbon casks and occasionally a good sherry cask. With the Port Ruighe, pronounced 'Port Ree', Talisker tried something new and jumped on the Port cask craze. Bottled at 45.8% ABV, this malt combines the classic smokey maritime character of Talisker with the rich fruits of a Port cask finish.
Nose: A quintessential Talisker nose with bold notes of sea spray and smoke. More subtle are aromas of butterscotch toffee, orange pith, plums and chocolate.
Palate: Like the nose the palate has initial characteristics of a classic Talisker with brine and smoke but with light but present flavours of dried berries, chilli, rhubarb, chocolate and dried apricots.
Finish: A medium finish with flavours of oak, cocoa, mocha and more orange pith.
I've been dying to try the Port Ruighe for a while but because of its lack of age statement and its absence in retail outlets in the States I have concentrated on other fine malts. I took the plunge recently and am quite pleased with this expression, but if I were to make one caveat I would say that it might benefit from a year more in the cask. It's a tad too spicy, and its alcohol burn is a bit strong, but this does not diminish its complexity and interest. If you're interested in trying something different from the fabled Talisker I would definitely give the Port Ruighe a try!
Today we venture up to the Isle of Skye to examine a malt from another distillery close to my heart. Talisker. These classic maritime single malts are aged for a minimum of 10 years in American bourbon casks. It has been recognized as the editor's Choice at Whisky Magazine, a gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017 and was awarded 'Best Island Single Malt' at the 2017 World Whiskies Awards.
Nose: A pungent fragrance of peat-smoke with sweet pear and apple. The nose also carries pinches of maritime salt and seaweed.
Palate: Powerfully bold tones of peat, black pepper, sea brine and dry barley. Lighter sweet flavors of vanilla and delicate orchard fruit follow.
Finish: The lingering finish holds a combination of toasted malt, rich peat and sweet ripe apple.
The classic Talisker 10 Year, is one of those fine staples for any maritime malt lover. As Robert Louis Stevenson put it, "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker". It delivers an island peat and sea brine tone while also having a rich fruity feel. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to explore the rich taste of the fabled isles.
After some excellent recommendations I decided to try the old Tobermory 10 Year. I understood it to be a hidden gem among maritime single malts. This Traditional malt from the Isle of Mull is un-chillfiltered and unpeated with a strength of 46.3% ABV.
Nose: Rich and malty nose, with scents of ginger, stewed fruit, grass, spice and a hint of seaweed.
Palate: Soft and velvety, with flavours of spiced ginger, honey, dried fruit and a bold helping of sea brine. Also a touch of cinnamon and aniseed are present.
Finish: A long and beautiful, but mellow finish with sea salt, ginger and pepper.
I have to say I was really taken by this bottle. The Tobermory 10 year exhibits a lovely light maritime style with great complexity. I would definitely recommend it. Sláinte!