Talisker describes itself as “made by the sea”, and few brand descriptions can be quite as accurate. In the literal sense, the Talisker distillery in Carbost on the West coast of the Isle of Skye is a few yards from Loch Harport, which opens onto the Atlantic. The whisky that Talisker produces is famously maritime in character, displaying salt and seaweed in spades.
“Made by the sea” goes a little further than most distillery branding. Talisker has cemented its maritime credentials by becoming the title sponsor of an insane endurance event, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which sees entrants attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported.
It appears that when Talisker establishes a link in its branding, it goes all in. This should mean good things for the Talisker Skye, the distillery’s entry-level offering, named after its island home. So, is this whisky a fitting tribute to the largest island in the Inner Hebrides?
Island Single Malt Whisky; no age statement; produced by Diageo (Classic Malts Selection)
45.8% ABV; matured in a combination of refill and toasted American oak casks.
Chill-filtered and artificially coloured.
Nose: Toffee, vanilla custard, and citrus fruit. There is a slight harshness that hints at the spirit’s youth. It’s underlined by the expected salt and seaweed, and a touch of smoke and tobacco leaf.
Palate: Fudge, fresh apple, and a hint of dried mango, liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Finish: A medium dry finish, warm and peppery with a bit of peat smoke.
Opinion: Pleasant enough. The maritime notes that Talisker prides itself on are evident. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be too much going on: neither depth nor complexity. It tastes like a Talisker, but not a particularly interesting one. I don’t think this is a whisky that could ever be the main event.
The price seems a little high for what is essentially an entry-level NAS, especially when the well-regarded Talisker 10-Year-Old can be found for around £43. It’s strange that there isn’t a massive divide between the two whiskies in terms of price. It seems that the Talisker Skye has been designed as the brand’s presence on supermarket shelves: a true entry-level whisky, albeit with a price a little on the high side. I would be much happier with this whisky if I found it for around £25.
The Talisker Skye is fine, but only that. Its namesake, the Isle of Skye, is wild, rugged, and beautiful, but the whisky is relatively tame and pedestrian by contrast. Personally, I would stump up a few more pounds and buy the Talisker 10-Year-Old instead.