The youngest of the Special Releases this year is this Talisker 8 Year Old – the same age statement as last year. The mention heavily peated refill casks has caused some confusion, but what Diageo means is that they selected those casks that displayed the heaviest peat character, which were matured in refill (ex-Talisker) casks.
Talisker 8 yo 2012 (59,7%, OB Special Releases 2021, heavily peated refill casks)
Nose: a youngish, porridgy profile with some peaty sharpness indeed, ashes and black pepper. Rather more medicinal than expected, with hints of bandages, iodine and drops of Vicks. Green fruit and seaweed in the background, as well as light custard. Some vegetal notes and brine. Quite naked and chisseled, this is to Talisker 10 what Lagavulin 12 is to the 16 Years.
Mouth: really coastal, narrow and punchy. Brine, seaweed, rather herbal peat (still a bit on the vegetal side, without the expected amount of smoke). Plenty of crushed peppercorns. Lemon juice and just a hint of unripe pear.
Finish: medium, with chili, earthy peat and brine.
Definitely well made, but it’s a rather brutal and minimal Talisker, missing complexity and perhaps a little age to be really stunning. I’m not sure why established distilleries with sufficient stocks would want to imitate the start-ups like Staoisha or Kilkerran. Still available from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt for instance, and plenty of local retailers.