Talisker Dark Storm Review

“Storms Over Skye”

A Bit of History.

On September 15, 2013, I reviewed the Talisker Storm. Here are the Tasting Notes I wrote back then:

Country: Scotland
Brand: Talisker Storm
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Region: Highland - Islands - Skye
Age: NAS
ABV: 45,8%

Colour: Light Gold

Nose: With a name like this I would have expected impressions of Briny Waves full of Foamy Salty Water breaking on the rocks and screaming white Seagulls fighting the Dark and Rolling Thunderclouds above the Isle of Skye. In reality, the Nose of the Storm is not much more than a gentle Breeze of (Tropical) Fruits like Banana, Apricot and Pineapple, Honey, Salted Butter, Malt, Pencil Shavings and Orange Peel in combination with some Leather, Dusty Earth, Wood Smoke, Pepper, Ginger, Mint and hints of BBQ and Band-Aids. It's clear that there are some young spirits included in the Storm and the Alcohol is not completely embedded. When compared to the Talisker 10, the Storm has perhaps a tad more Peat and Salt. 

Taste: On the Thin side despite the relatively high ABV. It is quite Dry and Salty and presents a light Bitterness that could be a result of relaxed Wood Management. I find light Wood Smoke, Dusty Peat, Brine, Grass, Malt, Wax, Leather, Nuts, Honey and Pepper. It's not as diverse as the 10 Years but perhaps slightly more balanced.

Finish: Medium Long, Dry and Salty with (Chili) Pepper, Wood Smoke, Oak, Peat, Ginger and a touch of Honey. Rather forgettable. It's in the Finish that the Storm clearly loses the battle against the 10 Year.

The Talisker Storm does not accept Water very well despite its fiery name.  

Rating: 84,5

Nose: 21 – Taste: 21.5 – Finish: 21 – Overall: 21

Conclusion: The Talisker distillery is part of Diageo. And Diageo takes marketing very seriously. Talisker sales have boomed during the last years. And everybody knows the word-wide success story of Johnny Walker Blue despite it being overpriced and overvalued. But let's go back to Talisker. With the Ten Years they have a standard OB that's quite good although quality has dropped a bit over the years. I would not be surprised if increasing demand for the 10 years was threatening supply. So a short-term solution needed to be found. And that solution could well be the NAS Storm that was introduced with the usual quality marketing of Diageo. Great packaging and presentation that will certainly please potential buyers. "Bring on the Storm" the propaganda screamed. To me this Single Malt seems to be the temporary assistant of the 10 years until supply and demand of the latter are back in balance. But let's go back to the intrinsic quality of the Storm. When compared to the Nose of the 10 years, the Storm is slightly more Peaty and Salty but also younger and a bit edgy. On the Palate the Storm is actually quite smooth but shows less character than the 10 Years. And while the Finish of the 10 years is something you will remember for the rest of your life, the Finish of the Storm is smooth but quite forgettable. All this leads me to the conclusion that, while the Talisker Storm is not a bad Single Malt, it is actually not much more than a Storm in a Teacup!

Very recently, one of friends travelled abroad and on the way back brought me a bottle of the Dark Storm, bought at the Sao Paulo Airport Travel Retail Shop. I am very curious to see how it is and how it compares to the Storm. So Let's go!



Whisky Review # 668

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Skye
Brand: Talisker Dark Storm 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 45.8%
Maturation: Heavily Charred Bourbon casks. 
Chill Filtration: Yes     
Price Range: Around US$ 70 (December 2017). 
Buying Advice: 😐 Neutral. Not bad for a NAS! Still prefer the 10 Years!  

Colour: Dark Amber with shades of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Smoked Kipper, Sweet Earthy Peat and Bacon are my first impressions. For a moment Lagavulin 16 Years popped up in my mind. It's a relatively Young Whisky but apparently the extra Charred casks absorbed a part of the harshness that is characteristic for young peated Malts. The Alcohol is noticeable though so you need to work your way around that. This Whisky could have been made on Islay because I find Iodine, Tar, Band-Aids and Brine. But there's enough Chili and Pepper there that screams I'm Talisker! I also find Sweet Barley, Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Wax, Yeast and Dusty Attic. The Fruit is represented by thick Warm Apple Sauce, Mandarin, Raisins, Lemon and Orange. Finally Menthol, Leather and traces of Tobacco, Soy Sauce, Banana and Dark Chocolate. It's not bad but it's nothing special either and the Sharp Alcohol bothers me a bit.

Visit May 2017

Palate: Bitter-Sweet and Dry with a few Sour notes towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Dusty Peat, Yeast, Iodine, Tar, BBQ, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Nuts, Orange, Lemon, Red Berries, Ripe Apple, Raisins, Leather, Tobacco, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Licorice, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Charred Oak, Espresso and Dark Chocolate. 

Finish: Quite Long and better than the Storm in this aspect. Still, it's a Young Whisky and there are some Sharp and Raw edges here. Rusty Iron came to my mind. I also find Toasted Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Almonds, Mandarin, Orange, Heather-Honey, Apple, Grapefruit, Charred Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger, Aniseed, Licorice, Earthy Peat, Floral Soap, BBQ and Dark Chocolate. On the Finish, this Dark Storm is Bitter-Sweet and Quite Dry. A few Sour notes as well. The Alcohol remains noticeable. After a while a Strawberry note appears out of nowhere.    
Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and that takes care of the Sharp Alcohol. The Dark Storm accepts a few drops although you do meddle with the character of this Malt. 

Rating: 84.5   

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The distillery is located in Carbost on the Isle of Skye and was founded in 1830. The current owners are Diageo. Despite the remote location, Talisker receives lots of visitors and the Shop and VC were recently refurnished. We visited the distillery in May this year and it was crowded! We didn't like the Tour a lot. You are not allowed to take pictures and mill and casks can only be seen behind glass. You can't get very close to the stills as well. It was nice to have a close look at the wooden worm tubs outside. The subsequent Tasting was really nice though and we spend almost an hour in a separate room tasting six different Taliskers. If you're on Skye you should certainly pay Talisker a visit.

The Dark Storm was released specifically for the Travel Retail market in 2013, a few months after the introduction of the Storm. Dark Storm was launched as the peatiest Talisker! In the meantime you can buy it on line as well.

Tasting during Visit May 2017

🍷  The Spirit 

Talisker operates two wash stills and three spirit stills. The Lyne arms of the wash stills make a peculiar U bend that increases the contact of the spirit with the copper. The fermentation time is long. The stills produce a lightly peated full-bodied Spicy and Peppery Whisky. The Water is sourced from the Springs on Cnoc Nan Speirag just above the distillery.

Visit May 2017
🌲  The Wood:

The Dark Storm matures in selected heavily Charred casks to create extra Spice and Smoke. I have no specific information on the type of casks used and the colour does not give us any clues as a hand full of Caramel was added. Based on the Tasting however I conclude that Bourbon casks were used. 

Drinking Experience: Good

Conclusion: I just noticed that I gave the Storm and the Dark Storm the same score. Does that mean they are basically the same Whiskies? No, not at all. The Storm is merely a gentle Breeze and an easy going Single Malt. The Dark Storm has more character and is far more Raw and Edgy. Both are quite Salty when compared to other Taliskers. Both Storm and Dark Storm have something in common though. They are both young Whiskies and pale when compared to the  Show stoppers of the distillery, the 10 and the 18 Years. The latter one remains my favourite Talisker and in fact one of my favourite Single Malts.      

Jan van den Ende                                                              December 14, 2017

Image result for talisker distillery
Visit May 2017

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