By the very nature of low long it takes to produce a well-aged single malt, it should come as no surprise that even for enthusiasts like myself, drinking 30 year old whisky is an uncommon occurrence. So many of the whiskies I enjoy throughout the course of a given year fall in the 10-20 year range. When I get to try something that hits the 30 year mark, it’s worth some attention.
While I’m not a huge fan of the medicinal style of peat often found on Islay (see: Trichlorophenylmethyliodosalicyl), I’m more apt to appreciate more subtle peat influence found in some lightly peated Highland malts and in island expressions such as Highland Park and Talisker. Heavily aged single malts also make for a final result that’s often less peat-forward. I’m not sure if the peated notes decrease over time as part of the aging process or if other notes like oak and spice simply take on more of a front seat role as whisky ages past the 20 year mark, but I’ve enjoyed a few Islay expressions that were 35 years old that I probably would have hated at half that age.
In the case of Talisker, I find this distillery to be accessible enough at any age. I’ve had their 25 Year Old cask strength release before and really enjoyed it. This 2017 release of Talisker 30 Year was aged in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and is bottled at their standard strength of 45.8% ABV.
What happens to this Isle of Skye distillate after three decades of maturation?
|Nose||Floral hinting on perfume, a general earthiness, deep oak, hint of peat, musty basement, dried cranberries. As strange as it sounds, there’s a touch of mushrooms here that I quite enjoy in conjunction with all the other deep flavors.|
|Taste||Caramel, coastal salinity, struck match, old oak, vanilla, cherry, fresh fruit salad, white pepper, slight hint of Kalamata olive.|
|Finish||Spicy at first in the form of clove and more pepper, a bit of fennel, deep oak, old library books, hint of ripe peaches. Medium-short length, oak and earthiness are the last to fade.|
|Overall Thoughts||Talisker 30 Year has so many lovely notes that can only come with 30 years of aging. The interplay between the inherent earthiness and those deeper oak, basement, and library notes is a really nice combination of flavors. There’s a touch of sulfur here that knocked this down a point or two but overall, this is a very enjoyable malt that’s perfect for the end of an evening.|