Between Christmas and New Year, I was treated to a whisky tasting by my friend and distiller extraordinaire, Steven Kersley. He was good enough to open a couple of bottles from his vast collection, some of which had been distilled as far back as the 1970s. However, the whisky which surprised me most on the night was something a bit more modern – Talisker Port Ruighe.
Diageo is taking Talisker in an interesting direction at the moment. Famed for its 10 year old, there have been three non-age statement releases in the last couple of years – Talisker Storm, Dark Storm and Port Ruighe, with some believing this could signal the end of the 10 year old and a total shift for the brand to non-age statement releases.
I’ve never been a massive fan of Talisker or the sweeter, Sherry finished Distillers Edition. The former I’ve always found too harsh, with the latter not really doing much to improve matters. Named after the capital of Skye, the island which the distillery is located on, the Port Ruighe takes the whisky in a different direction by allowing it to double mature in old port casks.
Doing so has rounded off the whisky’s harsher edges, whilst still allowing Talisker’s maritime character to shine through. The nose has all the smoke and brininess you would expect, with the port bringing in big, fruity plum flavours. This contrast continues onto the palate, with the sweetness of dark fruits augmented by a kick of spice and pepper. The mouth-feel is creamy and much thicker than you would expect from the 10 year old. The finished is as expected though – long, lingering and smoky.
According to the (nicely crafted) marketing spiel, Talisker Port Ruighe is “a toast to the Scottish traders who braved the high seas and were instrumental in founding the port wine trade”. Well, Slainte boys – you’ve helped produce a Talisker that I can finally enjoy!