October 16, 2014

Review: Talisker 25-Year (2005 Cask Strength) - The Beast We've Been Looking For

On Wistfulness

Sometimes it's hard to separate the whisky from the memories.  After all if you're drinking to drink, you're doing it wrong. The point of a good drink is to share with friends, to have a perfect taste to accompany the perfect moment, and to celebrate life together.  Or even to have a quiet drink by oneself, to sharpen one's memories or enjoy the end of a special day.  So sometimes when you taste a whisky in a particularly great setting, and then you go back and try it again, it just doesn't taste the same.  This leads to wistfulness, the longing for times past.

One of the very first reviews we published on SmokyBeast was Talisker 25-Year.  This was a dram that hubby had discovered years ago during a trip to the Isle of Skye.  I remember it being so superb.  Rich and smoky and full and just utterly awe-inspiring.  That's why we sought it out to be one of our first, thinking that it would be such a home run that we'd share this amazing memory with all our new readers.

To be honest, while it was still pretty good, it didn't have the wonder that I'd remembered.  It tasted a bit flat, lacking the brilliance.  I assumed that it was my memory.  After all climbing the hills of Skye, seeing the unbelievable nature, getting to know new friends, drinking with strangers...  these are things that make everything taste sweeter.  Then this happened:

Talisker 25-Year Special Release 2005

We got our hands on a 2005 release of Tali25.  You see there's a very big difference between what they were putting out back then and what's on the shelf today.  Namely, they used to bottle these at cask strength, and now they dilute them to around 46%.  That makes for a lot less punch, and quite a different flavor.  Now I realize that my memory wasn't the problem.  I wasn't being wistful.  It's totally different juice!  Vindication!!!

Sufficed to say the old bottle was right on the money.  Big bold, smoke & seawater, just everything I remember from my visit to the motherland.

Tasting Notes

Nose:  As George R.R.R.R. Martin would say, "boiled leather."  It's big oak, big salty sea air, and an undercurrent of peat smoke.  Very balanced, very "men's club" (read: polished leather, wood, and cigar smoke), little bits of white chocolate, walnuts, and green grapes.

Palate:  You can just tell right away.  This is everything a malt should be.  It's salty, sweet, and keeps that wonderful balance of smoke.

Finish:  Oh my God that finish.  It's a mighty spirit, and doesn't shy away.  But everything just comes together so wonderfully.  The smoke is more noticeable as the taste fades and little plumes of smoldering ocean wood drift up the sides of your throat to your nose.  The sweetness is very contained, sitting behind and just taking the edge off the spirit.  This is the definition of good aging - taking away the fire and leaving the warmth.  Such wonderful deep warmth, it's hard to put into words.

The Bright Side of Wistful

Wistful can be warm.  Like seeing Neil Young in concert and realizing that just because time moves on and we get older, it doesn't mean we can't still be rock stars.  And finding a great whiskey that takes you back to the amazing experiences you had in your youth can be just as wonderful.  Now I can share this bottle with the new friends I've met over the years, including my lovely wife, and tell them stories about my old college days romping around California and Scotland, drinking much more rampantly than I do today, but still remembering a special dram here and there.


  1. have a bottle of this that a good friend gave me for a wedding gift. waiting to write my last student loan check before opening it. after reading this i have even more motivation to get that debt paid off!

  2. Ha, it's good to have motivation. This will be a great way to celebrate being in the black!!!