Whisky Review: Rare by Nature 2020 Special Release Talisker 8 Year

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced 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.

The annual Diageo Special Releases always has a theme. However, the 2020 Special Releases marks the first time a theme repeats itself. Due to the popularity of the 2019 Rare By Nature collection, Diageo has released a part two. This gives Master Blender, Dr. Craig Wilson the ability to showcase whiskies as an encore from these distilleries that would possibly not get bottled on their own. 

The 2020 Rare by Nature has the same whiskies as the 2019 Special Releases for whisky lovers to compare. Dr. Wilson  meticulously hand selects each whisky to show another side of the distilleries chosen. The seventh whisky in the Rare by Nature editions comes from the Talisker Distillery. For the 2019 edition, the Talisker was 15-years-old. This year, the Talisker is an 8-year-old whisky. 

Isle of Skye is fifty miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides. All the far western edge sits the oldest distillery on Skye. Talisker makes a variety of whiskies. Their whisky is popular and even has a cult-like following. Talisker happens to be one of my favourite scotch distilleries. 

Founded in 1830, the history of Talisker is filled with ups and downs. The whisky was originally triple distilled, but eventually reverted to double distillation in 1928. In 1960, heartache and tragedy took the Talisker Distillery by surprise. A fire destroyed the stillhouse. It took two years to replicate and replace the five stills lost in the fire.

The Talisker 8 Year is typically limited to Diageo’s Special Releases, so let’s see how the Isle of Skye distillery did. 

Rare by Nature 2020 Special Release Talisker 8 Year

Rare by Nature 2020 Special Release Talisker 8 Year (image via Diageo)

Tasting Notes: Rare by Nature 2020 Special Release Talisker 8 Year

Vital Stats: 57.9% ABV. Isle of Skye single malt distilled in 2011. Matured in pot-still Caribbean rum casks. 750ml $120.

Appearance: Pale gold/nearly clear

Nose: Malted grain and instant bread yeast aromas ooze out of the glass. Crusted sea salt and ocean air last throughout the nosing. Wild mushrooms and earth huddle around a peaty bonfire. 

Palate: The natural cask strength slightly burns, then quickly mellows out with soot. Sea salt and cracked black peppercorn make the tongue tingle. The mouthfeel has a bit of oil to it, but is otherwise light. Smoked vanilla lingers from the middle to the end. The mouth gets a little dry, but the wood tastes more like a damp fire log.

The Takeaway


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What's not to like about the 2020 Rare by Nature Talisker 8 Year? It's bready, salty, and smoky. My favourite thing about the whisky in particular is the nose. I just love the earthiness and mushroom qualities to it. Talisker does not disappoint.

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