The Islands of Skye, Jura, Arran, Mull and Orkney carry similarities to Islay's 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 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 the Isle of Skye to examine a malt from a another distillery close to my heart. Talisker. This classic maritime malt is 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 has been recommended to me on a number of occasions, so I was very pleased to get my hands on this well known malt. 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 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!