Review: Special Releases – Talisker 8

Last September I had the pleasure of a trip to London to attend the Diageo Special Releases launch event. (you can read more about it here)

The Special Releases Collection offers different perspectives on some of the more well known brands in the Diageo portfolio and some even offer glimpses into the past via its stocks from distilleries that are long since silent. There is however always a premium price attached.

I’ve talked about this before in an article entitled The Special Releases and The Concept Car Principal which is perhaps worth reading (and saves me repeating myself)

Now, I’ve always been a bit ambivalent towards Talisker in general. There is absolutely nothing that I find dislikable about it, it has just sort of passed me by I suppose. So when asked which of the SR collection was my favourite I was surprised to find myself voting instantly for the Talisker (I was also rather drawn to the Singleton of Glen Ord but that is for another day)

There is a historical precedent for this expression. Talisker 8 was for a time part of the core range from the Skye distillery (albeit not at cask strength)


1980’s Talisker 8

So to hark back to the past this year saw the re-emergence of a young Talisker with an age statement. This particular expression was matured in deep charred ex-bourbon 1st fill American oak casks.

The RRP is £70 which admittedly could buy you a Talisker 18 but I’ll let you read on and let you decide if it is worth it.

Last year saw me start a whisky tastings and events business so after I held my first tasting I decided to treat myself to a purchase as a reward.

Talisker 8, Diageo, (OB) 59.4%abv, from my collection.


In the glass it is a copper tinged golden colour and a quick swirl leaves medium to thick slow legs.

The nose is punchy. Big hits of maritime character. Iodine, sea spray, peat smoked kippers and a zingy twist of black pepper. Given time the peat starts to come through alongside a fresh lemony / citrusy feeling. Wet ropes drying on a quayside. Quite spirity at times, leaves the nose tingling.

A spot of water brings a sootier tone and restrains the punch somewhat. Still deliciously aromatic and full of coastal flavours. Redcurrants emerge along with a zippy and tangy lime character.

The palate is as mouthwatering as you might expect from the nose, it certainly doesn’t fade or mellow. Full throttle with mouthwatering BBQ hams, a delicious earthiness and a great alternating brine / pepper tone set the base. Deliciously oily in the mouth.

Water brings out the oils and even makes it feel thicker. Again the peat floats around, sometimes distant, other times you are lost amongst the smoke.

The finish is long and lingering. Earthy and grimy peat water propelled by the powerful spirit start to dry and coat the mouth as the sea spray comes crashing back in.

This is Talisker at 100mph. The distillery character embellished and accelerated at this young age.

I really do need to make the time to revisit the rest of the range but can’t help feeling that it is not going to measure up to this…


You can find more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

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One comment

  1. […] this expression will have to work really hard to come out of the shadow of last years magnificent Talisker 8 which was, for me, the highlight of last years collection and probably my favourite ever […]

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