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Issue 51 - Liquid thunder, storm in a glass

Whisky Magazine Issue 51
October 2005

 

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Liquid thunder, storm in a glass

Talisker is an icon malt and it's celebrating its 175th anniversary. Dave Broom takes a walk on its wildside.

The Wild Spirit.

Saturday night on Scotland's utter northwest coast. I was staying with a friend who was working on a fish farm and we were heading to a ceilidh in Ullapool.

Fortification for the journey came in the form of my first-ever malt. The first swig blasted strange new flavours of smoke and sea into my mouth, then came a chestwarming sweetness.

The whisky was called Talisker. It was eight years old and was 100° proof. This wasn't the normal whisky I'd snaffled from my dad's supply. This was out there. It was dangerous.

We drove through the Torridon landscape where mountains are left like beached creatures on a scoured plain. Depending on your point of view it's a place which has been reduced to nothing, or a place to start building. Afinishing point or a new start.

At that point it was the latter and Talisker was part of the fuel for this feeling of liberation. We reeled into the ceilidh and out again. Life changed that night.

Some of that comes back when I take a sip of the new make. It's sweet, oily. There's turfy peatiness lurking, some cereal, cider, a hint of pea-pod and brine. It clings to the palate, sweet but peppery, reluctant to move then it's released into a long drift of peat smoke.

Eruptions.

I made it to Skye by the backdoor route: the ferry from Glenelg, then thumbing a lift to the Sligachan Hotel (aka The Slig).

This was the test. The hills of the mainland were just a preparation. Skye is the big one. It demands respect. It forces you to co...

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