Bunnahabhain 18. Islay single malt. Non chill-filtered. 46.3% ABV.
The nose brings sherry, vanilla and a hint of smoke/peat. On the palate it is sweet, first caramel then spicy, with salt on the end. It brings on a bit of spicy notes with a medium-long finish. It certainly warms as it goes down. Some describe an iodine-like finish. It is also leaves a bit of an oily or light syrup coat on the tongue.
This is a strong whisky, the sweetness still overlays the characteristic aggressiveness and punch of an Islay scotch. Like many Islay, it is likely to be an aquired taste, not a place for someone new to single malts is likely to venture initially. Once here, there is a lot of character and depth to be explored.
I struggle with the pronunciation of some single malts, this distillery is one good example. According to the Master of Malt, this one is ‘BOO-na-HAven’.
Until the day comes when I can visit there, I will have to be content with my virtual tour of Islay. This is my current Islay neighborhood.
I think it is time to add another reflection on an Islay single malt. I considered one last night, before deciding to finish my notes on the Balvenie 21 first.
Since I have already written about some of my Ardbegs, I think I should visit another distillery. Fortunately, there are still choices. I am thinking I may need to look to one of the newer residents, a Bunnahabhain 18. Then again, it might be fun to spend some time contemplating one of the youngsters in the collection, Kilchoman.
Regardless, I have a few more to work my way through.
Of course, there will always be more to discover. I was able to have a dram of Ardbeg Galileo on my recent trip, and I hope to add it to my Islay neighborhood one day – assuming that it comes to Nebraska!
Balvenie 21 Portwood,. A Speyside single malt. Chill-filtered, 43% ABV.
The nose has undertones of peach and caramel. It has a sweet entry to the palate, the port influence no doubt, and taffy. I find that a dryness emerges that gives way to a taste of salt. The finish is dry, delicate and long.
There is a maturity and smoothness to this whisky. Not overpowering. I think this would be a great single malt to have as a prelude to a fine dinner.
Do you ever find that the taste of a particular scotch takes you back to a to a memory, capturing a moment in time? The type of memory association many experience with some music. Perhaps where you were when you first sampled or shared a dram of this scotch, or whom you were with at the moment? I wonder how such linked sensual memories influence how we assess and appreciate the scotch upon subsequent tastes.
I waited a couple days to revisit this Talisker. The Talisker 18, like the Talisker 10 is chill filtered, 45.8% ABV.
Sweet, maybe a little citris with mild smoked peat on the nose. The real distinction from the Talisker 10 shows when it hits your palate. A sweet entry, with an allspice accompaniment, transitioning to pepper with a smoke lingering. It lays on your tongue, a slight oily coating – mixing the pepper and smoke. This leads to a medium to long finish, dry and not burning.
I find this to be a more balanced, smooth, mature whisky in contrast to the Talisker 10. I think you get a better quality dram with the 18, but then again you should for about twice the price of the 10. It is a more seductive whisky to be sure and, for me, worth the extra cost.
Talisker 18 was selected as the Best Whisky in the World at the 2007 World Whiskies Awards. I do not know if I would name it as one of my top 5, but it would likely compete for a spot in the top 10.
Talisker 10. 45.8 ABV, Chill filtered.
I found my perception of this Isle of Skye single malt has shifted from when I first sampled it a few years back. When I first met this whisky, I had been mostly sampling Highland single malts. At that time, my first reaction was the strong smoke and peat presence on the nose and palate. Now, years later, after broadening my base, particularly with a couple dozen Islay single malts, I find my reaction to Talisker to have shifted substantially.
I now find the nose to be subdued smoke with a sweet floral/honey undercoating. On first exposure, the palate is a little sweeter than I recall, a sherry and spice, with smoke and pepper emerging. The finish is modest, lingering smoke and peppery.
I still think it is a very good single malt, and a good value overall. It might be a nice dram after a grilled meal, the mild smoke and sweetness providing a suitable transition.
A couple years ago, spent an enjoyable Saturday evening exploring these variations of Talisker. A very pleasant journey with friends.
I think it may be time to revisit each of these variations of Talisker on their own. Partly, I wonder how my tastes for specific single malts has shifted over time. While I find each enjoyable in it’s own way, I have moved from Highland to Islay in terms of my broad taste preference.
As a start, here are my notes from the past:
One of the best of the single malt distilleries from where I sit. Great complexity, with some shared elements … smooth first taste warming to peppery and long finishes … and each bottling bringing distinctive elements. The Talisker 10 is an outstanding bold scotch for a very good value. The 18 and the 25 bring smoother, and increasingly nuanced, presentations. The Distiller’s Edition is very good, but would be the one I would drop if I could only have three.