I’ve read that on the Eastern shore of the Trotternish peninsula on Skye, there is a rock formation called Elglais Bhreugach, or “false church”. It’s a largish stone arch that, as you might expect, kind of resembles a church. The local folklore of the spot is that many, many centuries ago it was used for pagan ceremonies where an individual would lie blindfolded in the arch all night, waiting for the sea’s supernatural beings to bring word of the future. This is my kind of church, though laying on rocks all night seems like it would be cold and uncomfortable…still, if one were to get some good tips on upcoming events, probably worth it. What this has to do with whisky, I have no idea, just kind of setting the scene for a great Island Scotch, Talisker’s 18 Year Old.
The Nose: Ahhhh, this smells like what a whiskey from a rocky island should smell like. There’s pipe tobacco, clean peat smoke, and brine-y wet rope balanced with a bit of rum cake, cinnamon, some prune and a faint orange citrus quality. I wouldn’t call it an especially inviting nose, but it is a tempting one, like a dark thunderstorm on the horizon.
The Palate: A full, smooth, luscious body. It’s sharp and strong to start with a little early sherry and burnt orange but this quickly turns to more rich pipe tobacco and worn leather…a little ash as well. It has a nice peppery-spicy quality. There is peat here but less smoke than an Islay…more fire.
The Finish: Finishes medium long with an almost spicy, tingling mouth feel. That smokey fire lingers on and on.
Thoughts: This one, to me, can change a lot even through one dram. Occasionally quick hints of vanilla on the nose, and even bacon and olive brine pop up on the palate. For all its complexity and unique “heat”, the 18yr. old is incredibly well balanced smooth and easy to drink. A cold, rainy afternoon Scotch or shared with friends after a rich, winter meal.