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.
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)
Pours a brilliant gold. Excellent clarity with shiny, light silky legs that stick to the glass. A very attractive pour.
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.
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.
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.
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.