Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In movies a good director’s cut accomplishes a couple of things. You get a bit more of what you love, maybe a surprise or two, and maybe some more character development that wasn’t in the original. This applies to a good distiller’s edition as well. This review is one of several reviews looking at the 2021 Classic Malts Distillers Editions from Diageo (click here for the other reviews in this series). Everything in this product line starts by being aged in a barrel that is re-charred American oak with “crocodile-skin” charred new American oak ends. Then each distillery uses a different style of fortified wine to finish their spirit.
This review is for the 2021 Talisker The Distillers Edition. Talisker is a distillery on the Isle of Skye. It was the only one on the island until Torabhaig opened in 2017. Their flagship product is the 10-year-old single malt. They run two 10,000 liter wash stills and three 7,500 liter spirit stills. Their whisky has a phenol content of 20 to 25 ppm, which puts them at the lower end of peated whisky. All of their whisky is stored on the coast or very close to it in warehouses where they are only stacked two high.
The 2021 Talisker The Distillers Edition is double matured in American oak and ex-Amoroso Sherry casks. Amoroso sherry is a style made by adding some Pedro Xerminez to Oloroso sherry. This is a dark full bodied style that normally has notes of dried fruit, caramel, and nuts. Oloroso is aged at a higher proof to keep flor from forming. Flor is a layer of yeast that can form during fermentation and aging. Oloroso has a high glycerol content that allows it to be perceived as sweeter, even though it is naturally dry.
Talisker is a great introduction to maritime flavors and light peat. The use of the Amoroso casks in finishing their whisky provides a lovely complement and lessens the intensity of what are very polarizing flavors. Talisker is a brand I have enjoyed for many years and their flagship product, annual release, and one off bottlings have all been things I enjoyed. I drank a flight of the 10-year-old, The Distillers Edition, and the Special Reserve Game of Thrones release while writing this. Their 10-year-old release, while not quite as interesting as The Distillers Edition, continues to be my preferred bottling. The maritime quality I enjoy so much gets subdued in The Distillers Edition making for something I see as being more approachable.
Tasting Notes: 2021 Talisker The Distillers Edition
Vital Stats: 45.8% ABV. Distilled in 2011 and bottled in 2021. Aged in new American oak and ex-Amoroso sherry casks.
Appearance: It is an orangish honey color. It forms a few thick tears that fall quickly, followed by slow smaller ones.
Nose: It smells of sweet peat. The nose is a combination of caramel, petrichor, and a faint smoke like a distant campfire.
Palate: It starts off with notes of caramel and peat, then progresses into a very earthy and slightly medicinal midpalate. Subtle mesquite bbq flavor on the finish is accompanied by an astringency that reminds me of lemon essential oil dropped right on the tongue. For those who did not grow up with a parent into essential oils I will try my best to explain this sensation. It is the feeling of an oil rolling across the tongue while both drying it out and fully taking over the flavor profile. Like that, but much more subtle. Peat is more present in flavors of earthiness than it is in smoke.
The addition of water brings cherry to the front palate and lets the smoke come out on the mid palate, but keeps all of the other flavors. Just a bit of water eliminated that bit of astringency on the finish as well.
Out of the bottle I think this is a crowd pleaser, but I have to say I think I prefer the standard Talisker 10 year’s rougher edges. With just a little bit of water The Distillers Edition really shines and captures that element of giving you just a little bit more from a well known product. I just wish I got that maritime flavor I love from the 10-year-old.