Talisker distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and built in 1831 at Carbost they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the MacLeod of MacLeod. The distillery was rebuilt 1880–87 and extended in 1900. When a new lease for the distillery was negotiated with the chief of Clan MacLeod in 1892 the annual payment was to be £23.12s and a ten-gallon cask of best-quality Talisker. In 1960 after a stillhouse fire completely destroyed the distilleryand it now consists of 5 stills; two wash stills and three spirit stills. All the stills use worm tubs (condensing coils) rather than a modern condenser, which are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content). During this early period, the whisky was produced using a triple distilling method which would have given a smooth spirit, but changed to the more conventional double distilling in 1928. Talisker was acquired by Distillers Company in 1925 and is now part of Diageo. After the 1960 fire, five exact replicas of the original stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavour. In 1972 the stills were converted to steam heating and the maltings floor was demolished. Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery. The malted barley used in production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature—swan neck lye pipes. A loop in the pipes takes the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol already condenses before it reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again. Talisker now has an annual output of three and a half million litres of spirit.
Talisker was the favourite whisky of writer Robert Louis Stevenson . In his poem “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, Stevenson mentioned “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.” I notice he did not mention Old Pulteney but that is a story for another place and time !!!
For Talisker the malt is peated to a phenol level of approximately 18–22 parts per million (ppm), which is a medium peating level. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), flows over peat which adds additional complexity to the whisky.
But now to the whisky !!
Talisker Storm is a non age statement whisky released at the beginning of 2013.
I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a half teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes.I was a bit careful with the water as I was unsure of how the whisky would open up. Caution was my watchword.
The whisky pours a dark golden colour, leaving long slow legs flowing down the inside of the glass.
The nose is initially surprisingly rich with heavy notes of honey, burnt oak and more and more pleasant smoke , perhaps a little Christmas cake spice and then some of the pepper associated with other Talisker offerings.
Warm pleasant warm and pleasant!!
The flavour is initially really quite full with honey and dark spices and a little brine, but then the smoke appears , but this is as from peat and burnt oak as you would find on a boatbuilders fire, not acidic but slightly sweet. A little black pepper and allspice appear at the end along with a little soft fruit sweetness .
A really flavoursome whisky that is exceedingly pleasant and warming. It is very well balanced with the sweet spicyness combining very well with the slightly oily smoke and brine.
The finish is medium long very clean and smooth with the peat and oak fire smouldering in the back of the mouth.
This is by definition a non age statement whisky but I find it be a highly excellent dram , intensive perhaps but that is not to its determent. It retains the peppery base of traditional Talisker and combines that with an explosion of very pleasant smoke.
Really enjoyable and highly recommended