Review: Talisker 57 Degrees North Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
57%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

A non-age-statement, but cask strength, Talisker which has a great reputation in my circle of friends. It is expensive in Ontario ($175 when you can find it) but I once found it in the Toronto airport for $75, which is where I obtained this bottle. I think they just forgot the leading "1" since I haven't seen it that cheap anywhere else - I am happy for the mistake.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L2290CM000 05954480
  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Ash, peaches, custard, slightly spicy. Wood smoke, pears, lemon, peat, mineral character – quite bright with all of the stone fruit though. Dried apricot, gooseberries, vanilla – quite zesty.

The palate is sweet, with quite a big, fairly sweet, body – particularly with water. Tinned peaches, smoke, mint, thick vegetation (i.e. peat), sharp earthiness – certainly big on the palate. It is a touch young for my liking – but it’s on the edge. Certainly an interesting contrast of all that fruitiness and the mineral peat. Oh, and it’s also reasonably creamy. Nice balance.

A drying finishes with clove, black pepper, prunes, tannins, and more mineral character. A terrific malt, but certainly overpriced – well, in Canada, I suppose, where it goes for about twice the price of the 10 Y.O.

Score: 87/100

Value: 6/100 (based on $175)


Review: Talisker Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Talisker Distiller's Edition 2.jpg
ABV
45.8%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-bourbon finished in Amaroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

This is similar to the standard Talisker 10, but with a finishing period in Amaroso Sherry Casks - similar to Oloroso but sweeter - providing another different look at the spirit of Talisker.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4266C2000 07011707
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Creamy almond strikes me at first - but with many other things at play: smoke (of course!), vanilla, gooseberries, white grape, sultana raisins, cooked apples, cinnamon, and the lightest touch of sherry in the background – though I’m not sure I would have noticed it if I hadn’t gone looking for it. The light tannins balance out this whisky well and provide a lot more nice structure to the whisky. A good bit of complexity and subtlety playing into the mix for this one. The finish comes out with a fair bit of creaminess which fits well into all the subtlety, yet it is still a bit dry…very nice.

Score: 87/100

Value: 31/100 (based on $120)


Review: Talisker Port Rhuige Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
Finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

I quite like port matured or port finished whiskies, and it isn't as common to see port finished peaty whisky. This was released alongside Talisker Storm and Dark Storm as a set of three NAS Taliskers in 2013, and was the most expensive of the bunch...but my favorite.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4184CM000 0357286
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Vanilla, rancio, almond, cacao - the port fits in well, but doesn’t overtake everything else. On the palate – things are wonderfully balanced. The fruitiness of the port offsets the smoke and spice, and the rancio plays wonderfully with the wood and the smoke as well. On the end, dried leaves, light creaminess, a touch of malt, dried apple…I imaged this would be one of my least-favorite Taliskers but I was very wrong. Also nearly the unanimous favorite Talisker of the lineup of all 5 core expressions when I did a tasting of them with some friends in January of 2016.

Score: 88/100

Value: 46/100 (based on $110)


Review: Talisker Dark Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Talisker Dark Storm.jpg
ABV
45.8%
Aging
Heavily Charred Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

This whisky, released alongside Talisker Storm, uses heavily charred casks for its maturation - not the usual choice of cask for Scotch, but rather for American Whisky.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4197CM000 04053962
  • Bottling Date: 2014

The interplay of the peat and smoky oak is quite intriguing to me, and brings forth quite a bit of vanilla, maple, and caramel in the mix - I am not sure if I like that part. Some dried staff here - dried apricot, dried hibiscus, and some prunes. On the palate, it shows more sharpness than many Taliskers, and fairly sweet and juicy - there is one part where the ashy smoke has some wonderful wood integration, but it is still a bit flat overall with a touch of saccharin on the finish. Light creaminess comes through on the finish, with some fresh apricot, dark chocolate, and a bit of grape alongside the clove, smoke, and pepper. Not sure if maple and caramel make this “dark”….but the caramel seems to take a bigger role as the peat fades in the bottle.

Score: 86/100

Value: 56/100 (based on $81)


Review: Talisker Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

One of the big non-age-statement releases back when they were just beginning - Talisker ventured there with this, Dark Storm, and Port Rhuige. This cost the same as the 10, but no guarantee on its age (not everything, but it is something). I guess it rests on the taste:


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4078CM000 01613047
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Almost a bit sour with some of the younger whisky coming out a bit too much – to me, it tastes the youngest of the regular Taliskers. I am generally not a huge fan of the new make harsh and oily sourness, but this one is integrated very nicely together to bring a large amount of complexity forward. The grain plays through a bit - certainly seems more complex than the 10 year old, but less deep. Plums, peaches, roasted peanuts, uncooked bacon, and some pretty fragile smoke and ash woven throughout. The finish is quite complex with a fruity body and smoke and the lightest spearmint. Overall, it would do a lot better for me if there was a bit more maturity to a few of the components, but this is wonderfully blended stuff nonetheless – the complexity and balance weight-for-weight of the fruit and the smoke, the sweetness and the spice is quite worthy of appreciation.

Score: 87/100

Value: 47/100 (based on $100)


Review: Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
10 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

A definitive smoky, Island malt - Talisker is another distillery in the Diageo portfolio, hailing from the magnificent Isle of Skye. An interesting fact - not all the whisky is matured there. While I was at Glen Ord last year, I saw a cask of Talisker maturing - Diageo distributes its casks among its distilleries so that if there is a fire, etc., not all the stock will be depleted.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4072CM0 0 0 0159818 7
  • Bottling Date: ~2013

There is some nice peat here! I suppose that might be obvious, but there’s peat, and then there’s peat….And a good bit of creaminess as well, yet still spicy and interesting as well and what seems to be some nice bourbon cask influence. On the palate, creamy and smoky, though it is a bit flat and plain – it is missing some of the depth and complexity it usually does. The finish develops in a warming fashion, too, with apple, apricot, and the lightest drying of the mouth in the end.

Score: 85/100

Value: 34/100 (based on $100)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L6194CM000 04970461
  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is marvelous. Pepper, creamy malt, dark chocolate, custard, and terrific earthiness. The palate is sweet, with apple, a light marine mineral character, spice, apricot, and terrific earthiness – and slight floral dried flower notes (these are very nice!). Old (as opposed to freshly) ground black pepper on the finish, with earthy peat, smoke, and vanilla. The finish is lightly drying, and the sweetness is perfect to balance.  Terrific - better and more vibrant than my last bottle! The cacao, smoke, earthiness, dryness, and sweetness of the finish are just brilliant.

Score: 87/100

Value:  47/100 (based on $100)


Review: The Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~60%
Aging
100% Oloroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

This whisky, unfortunately, has been discontinued. Many cried out for a cask strength Macallan, and this received very positive reviews. Bottled at natural colour, and without chill filtration. It seems a connoisseur’s dream! Matured exclusively in oloroso sherry casks. There were a few different batches of this, all at slightly different ABVs.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A (60.1%)
  • Bottling Code: L10 - 09 07 22 :27
  • Bottling Date: 2010

The nose is incredibly rich – intense sherry, rich toffee – but also, incredible malt underneath. In many of these sherry monsters it seems cask quite significantly over distillate – but here, the distillate is holding its own. Dried orange peel (as you see in some teas), milk chocolate, vanilla, raisins, and light spice – cloves and cinnamon – but not sharp, more softly present as in a spiced sauce of some kind.

The palate is full of spice, but in the middle is full of incredibly rich toffee and cinnamon before spiced butterscotch pudding and the lightest touch of malt takes hold in the long finish. I love the richness of the whisky, and it comes in quite spicy in feel as well, as might be expected from the heat. The oak gets a bit less with added water – it is densely present at full strength. The finish is a bit dry (though it does lighten up over time), but I always like that, and there’s also some vanilla which really shines through nicely in the finish. The toffee richness in the middle is incredibly impressive, I might add, once again, especially as the “middle” of sherry monsters often get lost. Undeniably Macallan, and very big.

Overall: 90/100

Value: 55/100 (based on $120)


Review: The Macallan 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
100% Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

One of the most well known brands, the Macallan has been producing whiskies since 1824 – and, at least a few years ago (and perhaps still) was the third highest selling single malt brand in the world. It is often equated with luxury – if stereotypes hold, it might be the one drunk by lawyers and it was James Bond’s drink of choice. It has some of the smallest stills in Speyside, resulting in a heavy spirit coming off the stills into the barrels as there is less copper contact to strip away some of the heavy elements. The Macallan also uses two yeast strains in their fermentation, which is uncommon in Scotland where most distilleries only use one strain of yeast.

This particular whisky has been matured exclusively in sherry oak, which Macallan obtains from Jerez in spain where both the casks and the sherry seasoning are carefully controlled and selected. As far as I understand, this whisky (along with some of its older counterparts, which just had age statements) has been replaced in the Macallan range by the 1824 series (which includes Macallan Gold , Amber, Sienna, Ruby).


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Fruity, with apples coming off at first, but also with a rich background of raisins, vanilla, honey, and dense, slightly earthy, oak. Some caramel develops, and more malt comes forward with some time.

Taste: Comes off fairly dry, and the flavour develops into a bit of a spicy flurry including lots of hints of the oxidized sherry character and honey. Malt is fairly present and this carries a decent amount of cereal (i.e. grain) flavours. It’s interesting how the sweetness develops – as it starts out, it doesn’t appear to be that sweet until the sweetness kicks in mid-palate, where it continues. I am a fan of a bit of a dry character – which this one does pretty well.

Finish: Some biscuity-notes (like oat cakes), honey, raisins, almonds, and some light applesauce and malt as well. All of this with a fairly significant oxidized sherry character as well. The taste, length, and feel are all quite nice.

Score: 86/100

Value: 49/100 (based on $89)


Review: Wiser's Deluxe Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Wiser's Deluxe.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
~8-10 Years; First Fill bourbon barrels and refill casks
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

Deluxe, I suppose, is a common descriptor of the cheaper lines of Canadian whiskies, with both Crown Royal and Wiser’s offering some of their cheapest range under a “Deluxe” label. This whisky focuses on vanilla, with lots of bourbon notes - in terms of casking and character. It's the flagship Wiser's...


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Oaky and bitter, with some orange peel, spice, brown sugar, maple cookies, and burnt biscuits. Time opens up a light fatty grain in the background, with light nuttiness and rye spice adding in intrigue. It follows the nose on the palate, with some bitterness - and there's a bit of a sweet oaky middle and finish with some vanilla, strawberries, and cranberries coming through on the lightly creamy finish.

Score: 69/100

Value: 67/100 (based on $28)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code:  L17195DW14:36
  • Bottling Date: 2017

 

The previous review was some time ago, and, I keep hearing about this – so time for another go.

The nose has pine, burnt toast, vanilla, orange, light nutiness, butter, and orange peel. The palate is about the same – medium creaminess, and slightly bitter, with light caramel notes coming in mid-palate. Some white raisins, too. The finish has light evergreen wood (pine, cedar), with some clove and some very light dried apricot.

It’s still not my favorite – oddly, I think the added bourbon to this (from the cask or otherwise) is what is responsible for the worst parts of it, namely the slightly bitter finish („smooth” as they call it...). Much better than I remember. I don’t grade enough whiskies in this range to know if my tastes have changed (my early review was towards the beginning of my formal reviewing), or if it is batch dependent. I have heard that it is ...but I’d still much rather pay a bit more and get a better lower end Canadian like Northern Harvest or Copper Pot.

But, what shall we say – it’s more made for mixing. Makes some great lemonade, that’s for sure! 45 ml lemon juice, 50 ml deluxe, 50 ml vanilla simple syrup, and 5 ml homemade bitters (or 4-5 dashes Angostura/other purchased bitters). Shake and dump over ice in a glass; rim with black pepper if you feel adventurous. Bottles don’t last that long if you are drinking it this way in the summer...

Score: 79/100

Value: 69/100 (based on $28)


Review: Ledaig 21 Year Old 1992 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (WM Cadenhead Small Batch) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
53.6%
Aging
21 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tobermory (Tobermory, Scotland)

An independent bottling of a small batch of 21 year old Ledaig barrels by Cadenhead, distilled in 1992.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Date: N/A
  • Bottling Code: 2013

Lots of oak here! Also coconut and vanilla, and light corn husks (what? A bourbon cask?). And some very interesting, creamy, tropical fruit – mangosteen and guanabana. Quite bright. A bit farmyard-y as it sits out. Nutty, dense, and oaky. Light licorice as well. If you take careful time with this – you find a good bit of complexity, especially as wisps of smoke weave their way in and out.

The palate is full of malt, light vegetal notes (fennel frongs, celery leaf), with a good dose of fresh oak in the mix as well. The tropical notes continue on as well. Not a whole lot of peat or smoke to be found when it is watered down, if not for a touch of ash on the creamy, tropical finish. At full strength, the vegetal, sooty, peat comes through toward the end – it is, in fact, a source of great intrique and complexity. I love the subtle, creamy, tropical notes.

The finish has oak, vanilla, and holds lots of oaky spices. And a touch of sooty peat. The tropical nature continues. And some wood tannins. At first, I thought this lacked good integration and complexity – but as I have taken more time with it my opinion has changed, although it is still quite subtle.

Overall: 86/100

Value: 5/100 (based on $168)