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Oldest Talisker Ever Released: Talisker 44 YO Forests Of The Deep - Kelp Cask Finished

What you need to know: 

  • The oldest ever Talisker has just been announced: Talisker 44-Year-Old: Forests of the Deep is aged for four decades and then finished in casks charred with sustainable Scottish sea kelp. 

  • The result is a whisky submerged in a tangled forest of enticing aromas and sweet, smoky maritime accents- a marine-charred elemental Talisker with "new depths of flavour". Comes in at 49.1% Abv. 1997 bottles would be released, each going for a RRP of 3,800 pounds.

  • This expression is a tribute to the beauty and fragility of the great underwater kelp forests filled with giant kelp that can grow up to heights of 150 feet (45 metres). On 8 June, Talisker would be holding fund-raising tasting sessions in London to launch this expression and raise awareness of oceanic conservation. Tickets are affordable and proceeds would be donated to non-profit Parley for the Oceans. 

  • Many things about this novel expression make sense. Talisker has always been the  salty-seaweed themed Scotch distillery, so finishing it in a barrel charred with some seaweed seems to sit well with these theme. Other distilleries - including Ireland's Currach Distillery have tried a similar style of finishing and we think it worked well. It's also difficult to go wrong with old style whisky which tend to have more character. However, this is on the much pricier side for a four-decade old Talisker which typically go for about a thousand pounds cheaper. The title of being the "oldest-ever" Talisker could also always be superseded by another release.

  • We'll give this bottle a pass, but we would totally attend the tasting event in London. 
  • Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Not

 

 

The oldest ever Talisker was just announced yesterday: The Talisker 44-Year-Old: Forests of the Deep. This is both a rare collectible and an interesting reminder about kelp forests - the underwater flora and part of the oceans we have to protect.

A giant underwater forest lying near the Cape of Good Hope might never have never been discovered by us if not for the crew in award-winning Netflix documentary "My Octopus Teacher".

  

(Image Source: My Octopus Teacher, Netflix)

 

The heartwarming film tells us a story of film maker Craig Foster's friendship with a house cat-sized octopus who lived in the depths of the ocean near South Africa, where a sprawling kelp forest remained out of sight from prying eyes for decades.

The documentary masterfully weaves together disparate narratives, including the bonding between a man and a surprisingly friendly and intelligent ocean creature, and activists' concerns about our damage to the environment. 

More importantly, the film also drew public attention to the kelp forests of the world. What are kelp forests? For those thinking that the depicted underwater scenery is mere fantasy, you'd want to know see this: underwater kelp forests are a real thing.

 
You might not have heard of the great underwater forests. This one lies of the coast of California (Outlook India)

 

Although they look like plants, kelps (or what some of us call seaweed) are actually large algae usually found in temperate and polar waters, and could grow as high as 150 feet (45 metres)! In nutrient-rich waters, kelp can grow and spread quickly, forming a large three-dimensional forests with fish, octopi and seals swimming around them. It's really the stuff of maddening science fiction. Bioshock geeks, anyone?

 
This portrait of a shy harbour seal peeking through a kelp forest at researchers in California won an underwater photography contest at Miami (Image Source: Kyle McBurnie)

 

Craig Foster's team of activists renamed the kelp forest where My Octopus Teacher was filmed as The Great African Sea Forest to bring it on par with global attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef. Here's hoping more tourists and divers wouldn't spoil the natural habitat of the beautiful creatures living in the underwater forest. 

 

The Great African Sea Forest is a kelp forest off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope (Image Source: Sea Change Project)

 

Now, Talisker Distillery is famous for its smoky maritime character and mild briny umami notes that remind you of smoked Atlantic kelp. It's fitting that this expression commemorates a sea expedition led by ocean conservation organisation Parley for the Oceans to the Great African Sea Forest.

 
 (Image Source: Talisker)

 

This expression was aged for over four decades, before being finished in an unusual marine oak cask made from staves that had been taken on board the mission yacht of the sea expedition. The staves were then charred using a small amount of sustainably sourced Scottish sea kelp and stave wood shavings.

The result is a whisky submerged in a tangled forest of enticing aromas and sweet, smoky maritime accents- a marine-charred elemental Talisker with "new depths of flavour".

 

Official Tasting Notes
 
Colour
Deep, clear amber. Excellent beading.
 
Nose
True to a Talisker of age, the nose is mellow overall, with a peppery prickle that yields slowly to rich maritime top notes with traces of seaweed, salt crystals and warmed oak, over sweeter wafts of lemon zest and toffee. Beneath these scents lie intriguing layers of aroma; hints of canvas, brine-licked sea air and a distant beach bonfire.
 
Body
Full
 
Palate
A big, wonderfully oily-smooth texture and umami-rich taste, as waves of smoky-sweet intensity meet the full force of the sea mid-palate. The effect lightly dries before a peppery warmth surges and smoothens. A drop of water softens the feel and brings a hint of sweetness with a pinch of salt and tingling Szechuan pepper.
 
Finish
Really long, with soft traces of candle wax as a sweet chilli-pepper warmth suffuses the palate, becoming mouth-cooling if water is added.

 

This comes in at 49.1% Abv. 1997 bottles would be released, each going for a RRP of £3,800 per bottle (US$4,750). It is currently available for pre-order on Malts.com.

Respected whisky expert, Dave Broom, had very good things to say about this expression:

“This is a fascinating, bold, beautifully mature Talisker made in the old, bold, defiant style.

Some whiskies become refined and elegant with time, others lighten and move into an ethereal state. A few however, move in the opposite direction, becoming richer, more complex and concentrated versions of themselves. This is all about how Talisker’s distillery character shifts over time, refusing to become conventionally beautiful. Instead the oils are magnified, savoury elements emerge, and the smoke is retained, binding it all together. It is sweet, savoury, smoky and saline… and deep. It is Talisker on full power with an energy that is remarkable for its age, a true distillation of place.”

 

 

Ocean Conservation Tasting Event - London, 8 June 2022

Talisker has also partnered with Parley for the Oceans to keep raising awareness and support the conservation of 100 million square metres of marine ecosystems around the world.

8 June 2022 is the United Nations' World Oceans Day. On this day, Talisker would be holding a series of fund-raising tasting sessions in London to launch its Forests of the Deep expression and also raise sea conservation funds for Parley for the Oceans

The event would also include a Talisker 10-Year-Old cocktail, and a multimedia experiential exhibit the great sea kelp forests, the beauty of the oceanic depths, an educational session on the fragility of the marine ecosystems and a reminder of their importance to our planet. Tickets are going for a very affordable £25 and all proceeds would be donated to Parley for the Oceans.

To purchase tickets to this event, click here

 

Our Take 

Many things about this expression make sense. To my mind, Talisker is the salty-seaweed themed Scotch distillery, so finishing it in a barrel charred with some seaweed seems to sit well with these theme. This actually reminds me of Ireland's Currach Distillery Atlantic Kombu Seaweed Cask Finish Single Malt, which was similarly finished in seaweed-charred oak casks. It might sound avant garde and unusual but believe you me this works. 

It's also difficult to go wrong with old style whisky which tend to have more character - some say it's the barley varietals used back then. This 44 year old expression would have been distilled sometime in the late 1970s, and could have that influence. Whisky expert Dave Broom had also alluded to this being an enjoyable "old style" whisky.

And then there's the thing about conservation. The theme of protecting giant kelp forests and stunning visuals of these natural spectacles certainly adds to this being an interesting talking piece. Never mind that that kelp was harvested to char the oak staves, which seems to run in the opposite direction to the idea of conservation.  

That said, at the price of £3,800, this is on the much pricier side of four-decade old Talisker which typically go for about £2,800 thereabouts. We should also bear in mind its collector's value – this is a limited edition and "rare" bottling, but 1997 bottles would be released. Holding the title of being the "oldest-ever" Talisker doesn't mean much to me. The title could always been superseded by another release.  

There's a fair bit of novelty to be said of this bottle but from a drinker and collector's perspective, we'll give this a pass.

We'd totally attend the conservation and tasting event in London for £25 though.

Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Not

 

 

@charsiucharlie 



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