Just a few weeks ago this new Talisker was released, not by Diageo, but by Diageo Global Travel and Middle East (GTME). What? I don’t know why, but why do I have the feeling I’m being more and more conned? First, lets back up a bit. Not so long ago you had Talisker’s with age statements like 10yo, 12yo, 20yo, 25yo and 30yo, I said, not so long ago. Longer ago we had a stellar 8yo as well. At a certain point, again, not so long ago, the 18yo was released. All of a sudden, the stocks were depleted and the owners saw that Whisky was fetching silly money all across the board. I get that, because you’re in business to make a lot of money, hopefully, so I get the prices that are asked today. It’s a question of simple economics, supply and demand. Supply, somewhat unknown, the demand high.
Conned I said. Now, we are getting NAS Whiskies, and I tell you why. We need a lot of stock of older Whiskies to make high-priced Whiskies with an age statement again for the future. Well the price I mention is uncertain, because you never know what we the public are willing to pay for our Talisker 18yo in ten years’ time. Thus a lot of young Whisky must be released with some added older Whiskies for taste, because Diageo found out that the traveller is mainly concerned with taste and not age.
So we saw a lot of young Whiskies enter the market place and top money is spent to convince us that it’s all about taste and not age, well, we are made to forget that age matters a lot when it comes to taste! As I said above, I understand that I have to shell out some serious money for my Talisker 18yo, 25yo and 30yo, but that’s my choice, since I do love those expressions, but I can decide myself if I want to spend that kind of money, now or in the future. Diageo doesn’t really care because if I won’t spend that money, someone else will, because we see a lot of people paying a lot of money for Whiskies these days. And it’s almost no use looking elsewhere (other distillates), since those prices are soaring as well.
So conned I feel (Yoda speak), because the latest Taliskers don’t have numbers anymore, but names. Storm, Skye, Dark Storm and now Neist Point. As I said before, there used to be a stellar 8yo, a stellar (Tomatin) 5yo, etc. Today those numbers are not wanted, not because they are low, lower than the modern standard, the 10yo, no. Those numbers are unwanted because they are still too high and still too much a restriction. And since we already made a leap in yield per field of barley, today’s young Whisky can’t be compared to the 5yo of yesteryear. The quality od Sherry cask today is also different from the old ones. So lots and lots of young Whisky is sold to us through NAS bottlings. Yes it’s about taste, but no, not that much young Whisky can be so good as is claimed, and that’s my conned feeling right there. I’m indoctrinated and I’m made feeling stupid by claiming that age doesn’t matter (never did) and hiding behind the statement that only taste matters.
Conned some more I say: Why the mystery? Making up a name, fine, give your Whisky the name of a lighthouse or a Hyundai car. It’s fine, I like the names and I like the screen printed lighthouse on the Neist Point bottle. We all know it’s mostly young Whisky, with some added older casks to meet a desired flavour profile. Diageo claims that the traveller doesn’t care for age, but does care for taste, but the traveler speaks some more, the traveller also wants smooth Whisky, the traveller wants smooth Talisker. But why? Talisker smooth? Laphroaig is also being made smooth. Why? Can’t we have anything not smooth anymore? Didn’t we like Talisker and Laphroaig rough? wasn’t Talisker called the lava of the Cuillins? Lava as in not smooth? Hot and peppery!
Even more conning: It was said that Neist Point (The Whisky, not the lighthouse) has a huge depth of flavour and showcases a wider range of Talisker characteristics. Combining precisely selected flavoured Whiskies with some of Talisker’s rarest and smoothest mature stocks. Yeah right. Will those of you that believe this raise their hand? Am I really to believe the rarest of all Talisker stock went into this and are not released as super-duper premium Whiskies now and especially in the future?
So instead of a nice rambling about the new Talisker I started ranting, sorry for that, it never happened to me before. Critical yes, ranting, nope. Why not try this new expression of Talisker and see if it still has some lava in it. By the way, in the past Douglas Laing bottled some smooth Talisker’s. Back then, these casks didn’t match the Talisker profile and were sold off to be used in blends, now they are especially sought out and used for Talisker Neist Point… [fanfare music is playing and curtain rises…]
Nose: Some light smoke. Barley sweetness, and some old Sherry wood. Tiny hint of cask toast, but very mellow altogether. Hints of citrus. There is some sweetish freshness in the back, lemon and unripe tangerines. Crushed fresh almonds, mixed with some sweet and fatty peat. Mind you not a lot. When you close your eyes and someone pulls the glass away, a more fruity note stays behind and not a peaty one. Slightly warming.
Taste: Sweet, barley and nutty, again lots of almonds. Sweet lovely peat. (Springbank style). Extremely drinkable, but even after the first sip it is lacking some power and doesn’t hang around in the mouth for too long. Fruity, but more about yellow fruits. Dried apricots and pineapple. A little bit of toasted wood. Thick clay in the finish, which is nice, but the rest of the finish is about immature and young Whisky. Young can be mature, immature just isn’t mature. No pepper attack, so how’s this a Talisker? Short and a bit unbalanced finish, with a beer like note and fresh barley as the last of the aroma’s.
After the rant above, some of you maybe expected I would hate this Talisker, but in fact I wrote the piece above before even tasting Neist Point. It is how I feel, maybe I’m wrong, who knows. Neist Point is what I thought it would be, nice, smooth, extremely drinkable, but also a bit immature, and the rarest of Talisker casks didn’t hide that. Maybe more of those casks should have gone in?
In the end it’s not bad, but not spectacular either. If they really want to sell this for 150 euro’s, pounds or dollars, I feel it’s too expensive. I paid half of that for my bottle and that would seem more than enough. Sometimes it reminds me of Springbank 18yo and obviously the smooth 1980 Tactical from Douglas Laing. Both are better Whiskies with much longer finishes. Spend your money on that I would say, although the Tactical is hard to get these days.