And now there are two

Taste Review #61 – Talisker 10 and Talisker Skye

Last week I did something on Scotty’s drams that I hadn’t done in some time, and that was review two whiskies in the same article. So pleased was I with the result, I decided to do the same again this week, as I still have a shelf of a kitchen cabinet absolutely ‘stappit fu’ (that’s the Doric dialect for stuffed full) with miniatures. In an attempt to clear things out, I am going for it again.

Once again, this review of two minatures from the Talisker distillery were part of a three bottle set of which I have already reviewed the Talisker Dark Storm. It was a present from my wife, and reminds me of our last visit there in 2013. I’ve actually been there twice, and am quite familiar with the spirit that the distillery produces. For years Talisker was the only whisky distillery on Skye, and this is proudly proclaimed on the bottles I have before me. However there nothing worse in an age where things are changing so rapidly that what is fact and gospel one minute becomes outdated the next. There is another whisky distillery on Skye at Torabhaig which started producing in 2017, so hopefully soon we will be seeing spirit from there. When will we see Diageo update the Talisker labelling will remain to be seen.

The Talisker Distillery has existed since 1830’s, but wasn’t always a success on account of its remote location – even in today’s times it is still a pretty remote location. It wasn’t until it was taken over by Roderick Kemp and Alexander Allen in 1880 that things started to turn around. Kemp sold his share in 1892 to purchase the Macallan distillery, and in 1895 Allen died and it passed onto his business partner Thomas Mackenzie who was already involved in the Dailuaine distillery on Speyside. It was three years later when Talisker, Dailuaine and Imperial were merged into a single company. Mackenzie himself died in 1916, and control of the distillery was eventually gained by DCL which eventually evolved into the modern day drinks giant Diageo. It is a very important single malt for them, and by 1998 it became part of the Classic Malts selection.

The distillery has a visitors centre, which is very similar to other Diageo visitors centres, but I can recommend the tour very much. It is a beautiful journey to the Isle of Skye, travelling up from Glasgow on the A82, then cutting away from the Great Glen on the A87 all the way to the Isle of Skye, passing the Five Sisters of Kintail, Loch Duich and Eilean Donan Castle (Highlander Movie) and then over the Skye Bridge. The journey across Skye on a good day is little short of breathtaking when you get the view of the Cuillin Hills. Well worth the journey.

It is now time to continue with our whisky journey and proceed with the tastings.



Talisker 10

Strength – 45.8%. Colour – Amber. Nose – Smoke, Slight Peat, Brine, Citrus, Seaweed, a shell fish note too. A caramel toffee note appears after adding water with a light vanilla in the background. Palate – Not as agressive as the nose may suggest. Quite a full body with a very pleasant mouth feel. It coats the mouth very satisfactorily. Smoke, light peat. Malted cereal, sweet and peppery. Finish – Medium – long. Quite spicy and peppery with an explosion of oak spices and a nice sweet peppery note continuing.

Talisker Skye

Strength – 45.8%. Colour – Amber. Nose – Smoke and light peat. Less than the 10year old. Stewed orchard fruits, toffee, a hint of liquorice allsorts. Palate -Not as full a body as the 10 year old. A good bit lighter, but still lightly oily. Smoke and peat levels are much more subdued here compared to the 10 year old, yet is still unmistakably a Talisker. The brine is more noticeable due to the lower smoke levels and there. Finish– Much shorter than the 10 year old and not as much spice, but still the smokey sweet peppery finish.


There is a reason that Talisker is important to Diageo. It is such a pleasant drink to have. Yes, it may be a mass produced whisky but that is something that should be disregarded as we should be judging on our experience alone. It has been some time since I have tasted Talisker 10, especially since I took a shine to Laphroaig 10, but I would say if you are wanting to experiment with peaty whiskies, I’d start with some Highland Park 12 then move onto Talisker 10. It has such a lovely mouth feel, and what is really beneficial to the drinker is the smoke and peat aren’t too strong. The underlying sweetness rescues you from any residual phenolics so you don’t feel as though you are drinking a bottle of TCP.

Talisker Distillery alongside Loch Hariport

Moving onto the Skye – it is a little brother to the 10 year old. Much more approachable and if you are a bit of a peat and smoke virgin, then this would probably be better than simply leaping into the 10 year old. The mouthfeel is still familiar, but has less body, and for my palate a bit less satisfying, but I prefer the more heavier peated whiskies when we have moved into the peated styles.

Thinking back to my previous review of Talisker Storm, I remember that being quite aromatic in the smoke and peat departments, with a long finish which became quite tedious in the end. Plus the aroma was as such I could smell the glass of whisky from the other side of the room. It was an average whisky, but I wouldn’t rush to recommend it. However, these two that I have reviewed above I can recommend, as they are very easy to drink and not overpowering in any sense, but still give a quality drinking experience. Of course, there will be plenty of other whiskies that may be challenging, but if you are just looking for an easy going experience with medium smoke and peat, then these two will hit the spot.

However, there are down sides to the equation. Both of these whiskies have colour added, which makes me sad, as I’d like to see a difference between the two to help me realise without tasting that these two are different spirits. Only one of the spirits tasted this time have an age statement, and this was the better of the two with the fuller mouth feel. Whether this is coincidence and the NAS Talisker has a majority of younger whisky which gives a lighter feel is just a guess, but I don’t think its far off the mark.

We have to end on a positive though, and after how good it tastes, we then have to think of how much it costs. While I cannot comment on the cost of the three miniature set at the time as it was a kind gift from my wife to reminisce of our time on Skye, you can pick these up at a whisky retailer for around £16 mark. The full size bottles of each bottle can be picked up for around £43 (10 y.o) and £45 for Skye. As Diageo are moving away from 5CL miniatures at their visitor centres, the 10 year old can also be bought in 20CL size for around £16. To be honest, I think these prices represent good value, and if I fancied a change from Laphroaig, Talisker would be where I’d go to.

Yours in Spirits


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There’s a Storm Brewing!

Taste Review #7 – Talisker Storm

This miniature was bought for me by my lovely wife. It came in a triple pack that also included Talisker 10 and Talisker Skye. Out of that three, Storm is the smokiest, so I thought I’d give it a go first. My usual go-to peated whisky is Laphroaig, which I can enjoy neat, but would Storm be the same?

The miniature sample

Talisker is situated on the Isle of Skye, part of the Highland classification of malts. Officially there is no Island Category under the SWR 2009 legislation. It sits at the northern end of the village of Carbost in West Skye, and sits directly on the shores of Loch Harport. There is a visitor centre which sells the distillery produce along with selections of other Diageo distilleries as well as other Talisker merchandise. I’ve visited twice, once in 2011 and again with my wife to be in 2013.

The distillery makes a big point of being by the sea, and having dunnage warehouses on the loch shore definitely imparts a brine taste and aroma.

Talisker Distillery looking south towards Carbost village


Talisker Storm is Non-Age Statement.


45.8 % a.b.v


Medium Golden. As is common with Diageo non-cask strength whiskies, this one has caramel added.


A nice speed to the legs, suggesting a younger, higher alcohol content. However this is only a medium strength whisky.


Smoke. And heaps of it. Once poured, I left it to sit for a while, and the aroma of a medicinal smoke was filling my nostrils. Smelling it close up, I could detect brine, pepper and an oaky, woody smell.


A bit harsher than what I’ve become used to, which I was surprised with. I do like a peaty whisky, and this one reminded me of a young Ardbeg. However there was slightly more depth to Talisker Storm than Ardbeg 10. Definitely smokey with a light chilli pepper burn, but I didn’t detect the sweet notes initially, but with a teaspoon of water, this killed a bit of the peppery taste and left the sweeter elements of smoke there. Quite pleasant.


For me, the peppery finish continued with a bigger woody taste. The sweetness then became apparent towards the end. Felt the finish was a bit short, but left a feeling of having been to a BBQ in your mouth. The addition of water mellowed this out a fair bit.

Full Size bottle. Available at all good whisky retailers.

Talisker Storm is widely available in the UK and costs around £38 – £44. Shop around online and you may get it slightly cheaper.

It’s a pleasant dram to have although for me not amazing, and for me certainly not neat. I’d still pick Laphroaig 10 before this. What is amazing is the branded hoodie that I bought still fits, despite me being a middle aged “eating enthusiast!”

It’s also funny, that when I last visited Talisker with my wife, we also visited Dalwhinnie on the same trip. I only liked Talisker 10 with water, yet my wife preferred it neat, however the reverse was the case at Dalwhinnie. For me, it’s still the same – Talisker needs water, Dalwhinnie doesn’t. But in both cases, another nip is needed. And that’s just what I’m off to do!

Slainte Mhath!

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