Talisker distillery just launched the third and final release in the Xpedition Oak series. This combines very old single malts with a certain experimental character, released in partnership with marine conservation charity Parley for the Oceans.
The last release, a 45 year-old named Glacial Edge, is even more spectacular. The whisky was finished in twelve casks that had been exposed to sub-zero temperatures in a Canadian glacier. After the cask heads were removed, they stayed at 45 degrees below zero for four days, causing the heavily charred American oak to crack, not only increasing the surface area but also exposing wood with a slightly different character.
Ice fractured casks are quite unique. By now you may be frowning your eyebrows, but the other experiments turned out great, so let’s approach it with an open mind.
Talisker 45 yo ‘Glacial Edge’ (49,8%, OB 2023, 2455 btl.)
Nose: a myriad of elegant notes. Soft smoke, wax candles, fresh citrus and hints of ripe fruits in the distance. Then sandalwood, sea spray in winter, dried kelp, orange peels and apricots. Whiffs of eucalyptus and almonds, as well as heather honey and leather. Cold Lapsang. Distant creamy vanilla. Subtle hints of iodine as well. So balanced, so complex. Oh, and this doesn’t come accross as experimental in any way, which is a good thing.
Mouth: it starts on a waxy and fruity idea, with plenty of citrus freshness again, before it moves towards ashes, light medicinal notes, dried herbs and salted toffee. Then orange peels again, as well as black pepper, liquorice, waxy notes and the lightest hint of oak char. Taggiasca olives and a little oyster juice. Salty and quite punchy, leaving a tingling impression even, despite the persistent elegance.
Finish: very long, on dark woodsmoke, maritime notes and warming pepper.
Well, this series goes out with a bang! Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Years Old is totally superb, combining finesse with vivid sparkle. It is available to purchase via the Rare & Exceptional website or global retailers like Master of Malt.
You know what I’d really like to see from Talisker? A good middle-aged experiment. Not the ultra-premium whisky like this, which is out of reach for virtually all whisky enthusiasts. And not a NAS Wilder Seas expression either, which seems to be the opposite. No, something in the range of 18-21 years, complex but without funny finishes and not “exponentially” priced. A Parley 21 year old, is that still possible?