This week sees another island whisky, this time from Skye – situated off the west coast of Scotland, a little north of Islay. Talisker 57° North is named for the latitude of the distillery, but it's also bottled at a robust 57% ABV.
It's a nice golden colour in the glass. Unsurprisingly, the nose is all about that alcohol at first; give it a little time to clear though, and the character starts to show through – vanilla, toffee and a touch of iodine. Adding water, as ever, cuts through that alcohol and frees up the more subtle aromas – some gentle, fleeting smoke and light, almost perfumed floral notes.
Those toffee vanilla notes come through in the mouth as well, along with a much more pronounced peat smoke. You can certainly taste that 57%, but despite the intensity it manages to remain sweet and smooth. Some pepper comes in towards the end but only briefly; for all that intensity this is a whisky with quite a short finish.
Water reduces the intensity, making it more of a drinking than a sipping whisky. The flavours are still all there – the sweetness, the smoke, that pepper kick at the end – but they're more reserved.
In either form, it's delicious - I'm honestly not sure whether it's better with or without the water. With water, I miss the raw intensity of the neat dram, but the control that comes with it makes it much easier to enjoy by the mouthful.
This review was originally published 27th June, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.