Talisker 10 Year Single Malt Scotch

talisker_10When I got this bottle as a gift from one of my son’s friends, amazingly enough, I hadn’t had it yet. Amazing since it is such a well-known brand. But hey! I got a bottle, and I have to say, it’s not a bad little scotch at all. To be completely honest, now that I’ve had it, it wouldn’t be my first choice (I’ll explain below), but it’s solid just the same.

What I Smell

The nose on this is a bit confusing to me. I smell an earthy, peaty component for sure. But there’s also a hint of iodine (not off-putting), and what I can only call an “oceanic” component; like a sea spray. It’s not so much that I can smell it, but it’s as if there’s a saltiness to it. And maybe it’s because of the slight iodine scent that reminds me of the salt marshes near where I grew up in East Palo Alto. Finally, I smell something akin to fresh-cut grass. It gives the whisky a youthful character.

What I Taste

Up front, this scotch is sweet, with notes of honey and molasses, but that quickly gives way to peat smoke that sort of builds up in intensity. It’s subtle at first but becomes more prevalent in the finish, and the iodine comes out near the end. Pretty cool effect. The other interesting thing about thing about the peat in this is that it lingers – a long time. I wasn’t expecting that because the peat is so subtle up front. If you like a peaty single malt, you’d enjoy Talisker.

How I Like to Drink It

Any scotch for me is going to be drunk neat, and this one is no exception, though I will add a couple of drops of water to help the aromas and flavors bloom. That done, the natural sweetness gets revealed even more, and it also slightly tames the peat smoke.

Overall Impression

This is a solid single malt. As I mentioned above, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but that’s personal preference. I usually like very little to no smoke (Macallan), subtle smoke (Caol Ila), or a smoke bomb (Lagavulin). For me, Talisker is a “tweener.” I actually really like it – a lot – but I do know what I prefer, and while I enjoy this single malt, given my druthers, I’d get a different bottle.

My own preferences aside, I recommend trying Talisker. As I said, it’s solid.

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Old Standbys

When I wrote about wine a few years ago, a friend asked me what my “daily drinker” was. I told him that I didn’t have one, but if I was to have one, I’d probably go with some sort of Zinfandel. But to be honest, I just don’t drink every day. For one, I don’t need the calories, and two, I just can’t afford it. 🙂

It gets a little complicated if I was asked the same question with respect to whiskey. This is simply because there are lots that I like, so almost invariably, I’ll always have a couple of different bottles of Scotch, one or two bottles of Irish whiskey, and a few bottles of bourbon and maybe one or two “other” whiskeys like Tin Cup Colorado Whiskey.

But that said, there are standbys that I like to have on hand; well, not necessarily all at once, but I’ll have one or two that I keep around.

Canadian Club ~ What? You mean that cheap-ass stuff? Tell you what: This makes a fantastic Manhattan. I got introduced to this by a dear friend, Gloria Marchi, who is 85 years young, and one of my biggest fans (I’m a part-time professional singer/musician). She occasionally buys me a Manhattan, and she was introduced to them way back in the 60’s. If I want a Manhattan, yes, I could use a more expensive spirit, but my taste for Manhattans is with Canadian Club.

Bulleit Bourbon / Rye ~ I always have a bottle of one of these. It’s not so much my favorite brand,  but when I can’t make up my mind, I’ll make an Old Fashioned with this stuff.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon ~ Yeah, this stuff is a bit on the sweet side, but if I don’t have any Bulleit, I’ll usually have a bottle of this stuff on hand.

Woodford Reserve Distillers Select ~ Got this for Fathers Day this year. I like it so much, I’m almost done with the bottle. This may very well replace Bulleit as my go-to.

Caol Ila 12 Year Scotch ~ This is a mid-level Scotch that I absolutely fell in love with through my friend, Shahin Pirooz. It is mildly peaty, and for me, it’s a great end-of-day, nightcap drinker. Writing about it now reminds me that I have to pick up a bottle. But I have to finish my Port Dundas and Talisker that I got as gifts. Both of those (which I’ll eventually write about) are fine, mid-level Scotches as well.

So there you have it. You might be thinking I must be a lush, but I’m not. It actually takes me awhile to finish these, and like I said, I usually only have a couple of each on hand at a time. Right now I’m out of Bulleit and Buffalo as I’m working on the Woodford. But that’s so smooth and drinkable in so many ways, that I may just stick with that as my fallback. Great stuff!