Thursday, 12 January 2012

Talisker 57° North

So, I said Super Single Malts would be back in the New Year and here we are with the first sampling of 2012. 

Many years ago, at a village fete, I received a small piece of paper from a representative of the local Church of England church after making a donation. On this piece of paper were the words, “Life is what happens when you plan something else.”

This is apparently not an endearing quote from the Christian Bible, but is attributed to the Beatle, John Lennon, but may well have been quoted before. The source is irrelevant, but the words run true. All too often in life, plans are made, but then, well life comes along and just changes them.

When I first began writing the Super Single Malts blog, I needed something to preoccupy my time, give me a sense of purpose and to share my thoughts on whisky to similarly like-minded people. Life then came along and changed all that, so the blog remained on the original 6 postings, with the 3 whisky samplings. I deliberated deleting the original posts and reposting them under 2012 and to continue the blog from there, but that would be cheating the evolution and life of the blog. So a new year has dawned and a new start for the Super Single Malts blog.

It is amazing that all that time has passed since the last posting on the 14th April 2010 and now. The World has changed, people have changed, even the taste of whiskies has changed, but through all that, people, the World over have still come and visited the blog. It astonishes me that people in the USA, India, Brazil and afar have all come across this little old place on their search for information and I hope I have duly provided them with the information they have sought. The blog has been limited to Glenlivet and Glenfiddich thus far, with searches for Glenlivet, namely the 15 year old French Oak being the most popular. The samplings have also been commented on within other reviews around the internet, it is good to feel that my opinion is valued.

The blog will be expanded through 2012 and beyond, starting now with a look at Talisker’s 57° North bottling.

I have long been a fan of Talisker whisky and along with Highland Park, form my favourite brand of whiskies. My tasting of Talisker thus far had only taken in the 10 year old which is very accessible due in part to it being a brand of the drinks conglomerate Diego. Therefore, I decided that for my Christmas whisky, I would further explore what Talisker has to offer. Talisker can often be found behind a bar and so on many evenings out enjoying a beautiful meal, a Talisker 10 year old has been my accompaniment.

The distillery of Talisker is based on the Isle of Skye and is located between Loch Harport and the open Sea of the Hebrides. The distillery is sited at the foot of the imposing Cuillin Hills and is fed by the spring Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill) which flows over beds of peat which impart their flavour in to the whisky. Talisker whiskies have a reputation for being fiery, peppery, smoky and brooding. The Talisker core range comprises of a 10 year old, 18 year old and 25 year old, Distiller’s Edition and 57° North.

The 57° North’s name is a reference to the distillery’s high latitude on the Isle of Skye, and the whisky rather appropriately measures in at 57% vol, cask strength, original and unadulterated.

I picked up the 57° North from The Whisky Exchange, which was an excellent way to source the whisky. It was a simple case of choosing my whisky, placing the order and waiting for the parcel to arrive. Hassle free and at £38.95, a 25% off special offer including a free Talisker glass, an excellent price.

So the parcel arrived in advance of Christmas, the whisky ready and waiting for its star appearance. The parcel was well packaged with Styrofoam pieces meaning everything arrived in one piece. I un-wrapped the box as if it was already Christmas, but then, it was my Christmas present to myself! I opened the Talisker’s box and was greeted with a beautiful rich golden coloured liquid. Could I wait until Christmas to open it?

It was a struggle and by Christmas Eve, I had to give in and open the bottle. I had finished work for the festive period, so what better way to celebrate the season than to open a beautiful bottle of Talisker.

As you pour out the 57° North, the beautiful rich golden liquid flows with a light, oily consistency. The excitement continues as you swirl it in the glass and it gingerly clings to the glasses edge before sinking back to the base of the glass.

On the nose, the Talisker transports you back to its spiritual home, the Isle of Skye. Mental images of the rugged Scottish coastline are instantly conjured up with the scent of air on a cold day and salty sea water breaking against the rocks. You can only imagine that a day out here is finished with a whisky by an open fire, the scent of smouldering, burning, smoky oak filling the remaining aromas.

As the rich golden liquid, sweet, syrupy and oily to the tongue, first touches the palate, the most present feature is the hot and peppery spice qualities of this cask strength whisky. Bursts of peat, salt and the subtle hint of lemon zest can be found. Subtle flavours of the American oak casks that this whisky matures in are also noticeable. The 57° North has a long, warming finish that feels entirely appropriate for consumption in the depths of winter.

This is my first experience of a cask strength whisky and it has not failed to live up to expectation. It is powerful, big bodied and unmistakably Talisker. This reaffirmed my appreciation of Talisker and I now hope to be able to sample others including their award winning 18 year old.

If you are feeling cold this winter and find yourself by an open fire, definitely ensure that a glass of 57° North is firmly in your hand. It is a drink to be enjoyed and is thoroughly recommended. You might note from the photograph just how much I have enjoyed the 57° North, this whisky suffered for the Christmas period and is now fast approaching an empty bottle.

One final note, it is good to be back!

More information on Talisker can be found here - Talisker

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