Image of a bottle of Talisker Storm and a pour in a Glencairn glass

On a Tall Ship at Sea – Talisker Storm Complete Review

Talisker’s Most¬†Contentious Bottling

It’s been a rainy week in Chattanooga. When it’s raining, the whiskeys can’t have their glamour sessions outside. So, I put the reviews on hold. By yesterday, I’d had enough. I braved the light rain to get a few shots of today’s reviewed whisky, Talisker Storm. It seems an apt choice for this week’s weather.Image of a bottle of Talisker Storm and a pour in a Glencairn glass

Talisker Storm has been around since 2013. Over the three plus years since, it has accumulated reviews that are all over the map. Google “Talisker Storm reviews” and on the first page, you get reviews ranging from 3 out of 5 to 4.5 out of 5. That may not seem like a large spread but in the world of single malt scotch, a 3 out of 5 puts it on lots of drinkers’ ignore list. A 4.5 out of 5, on the other hand, makes it a must-try. Whisky Advocate named it the 2013 Highland Single Malt of the Year and one Master of Malt reviewer called it “truly the worst whisky [he’d] ever tasted…akin to a combination of antiseptic and old pub ashtray.”

Now, of course I’d heard of Talisker before I bought this bottle. As the only distiller on the Isle of Skye, Talisker is unique by definition. Their flagship 10 Year is a near-gold standard for peated scotch fans, sharing characteristics of both Highland and Islay styles. But what made this bottle an insta-buy for me was the orange tag reading “SPECIAL $40!” That particular liquor store didn’t have much else to offer so a bottle from a known distiller at about half the price was a no-brainer. Would it be an “undisputed win” (The Whisky Exhange reviewer) or “sharp and acidic with a horrendous aftertaste?” (Master of Malt reviewer)

Review

Appearance

Image of a pour of Talisker Storm in a Glencairn glassPours a brilliant gold. Excellent clarity with shiny, light silky legs that stick to the glass. A very attractive pour.

Nose/Aroma

Immediately smoky and salty. The brine common with seaside aging lays over everything. In the middle of the nose, there are some nice tobacco notes surrounding a soft, earthy peat. Finally, sweet caramel plays with restrained citrusy lemon smells.

Flavor

As it hits the mouth, it’s briney, bright, and smoky. Those flavors quickly blend into sweet caramel notes that never quite darken¬†into the toffee you get out of some older single malts. This whisky is young and vibrant. The salt and brine is big throughout. At the end comes tobacco, oak, and leather.

Mouthfeel

Bright and almost effervescent at first. Just a hint of an alcohol tingle makes this scotch feel very alive without ever being harsh like many young whiskies. This one really dances on the tongue, making for an interesting experience. The only downside is in the finish which is moderate at best, not leaving much evidence behind.

Overall ImpressionImage of Talisker Storm Bottle

This scotch is so polarizing, and my opinion is no exception. I really like it. For peated fans that don’t need a bonfire in their mouth every evening, Talisker Storm is one to try. A lot of the Islay distillers market the experience of the sea found in their bottlings. But above all the whiskies I’ve tried, this one really takes me there. With the brine, smoke, wood, and leather, I imagine sitting on the weatherdeck of an old tall ship, smoke drifting from the fire hearth. Talisker has done a fine job with Storm. This is one bottle that I will always keep on hand.

Score

85/100

Buy Talisker Storm

Brad Lumley on Email
Brad Lumley
Brad is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge-gone whisk(e)y aficionado. Between drams, he's a husband, father of two, and avid CrossFitter.

COMMENTS

wikifarmer

I’m new to drinking whiskey not always only been a fan of whiskey , but i have started to enjoy whiskies since the past three months and I’m loving trying out different types of whiskies time will tell what my faves will be. Unfortunately Talisker Storm will not be amongst them.that is may be because it is way too smoky and a charcoal tinge to taste with a lingering smoky medicinal after taste which I found unpleasant.

    Christopher Zacharias

    Yeah, I’m not a fan of any type of smokey flavor or aftertaste. “Medicinal” is a good word to describe it. I just feel like it actually takes away from other natural flavors and disrupts the smoothness and the blend. “Wild Turkey” is another brand that could be described this way. I’m not a fan of this brand either.

      Brad Lumley

      There’s a chemical reason you’re getting “medicinal” from these whiskies: polyphenols. The peat smoke in peated whiskies adds polyphenols to the malt. Lots of people pick this up as a band-aid flavor –also described as medicinal. Wild Turkey has a high rye mash bill of 75/13/12 corn/rye/barley. Rye is also has lots of polyphenols. So while the composition of peated whiskies and high rye bourbons are quite different, it’s the polyphenols you find offensive.

      Also interesting, polyphenols are a flaw in most beer styles. They can indicate that the brewer used water with too much chlorine or the beer had a poor or incomplete fermentation. There are of course exceptions for many styles but the fact that polyphenols are mostly considered offensive affirms that you’re probably in the majority.

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