In what’s thought to be a whisky first, Talisker has harnessed ice-blasted casks for its latest release. Kristiane Sherry explores the rationale, and discovers how Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Year Old is helping a marine conservation drive.
Picture the scene. You’re in the depths of the Canadian ice fields in sub-zero temperatures. Biting Arctic winds rip at your face. The wilderness stretches as far as you can see in all directions. It was here that Scotch whisky distillery Talisker dropped 12 casks to expose them to the extreme conditions for 96 hours.
The heavily charred, American oak ex-Canadian whisky casks were part of what’s thought to be a world first. The experiment follows the theory that if you open up the inner surface of a cask, the spirit can better access it during ageing. That's thanks to the increased surface area created by the cracks. The result should be more – or different – flavours in the spirit.
Talisker could only find this out once the casks arrived back in Scotland. On arrival, they were used for a finishing period for a very special whisky indeed: Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Year Old. We’re not sure how long the finishing period lasted – but the results are fascinating.
According to people in the know, Talisker’s signature maritime notes have taken on a sandy quality. There’s faint dried fruit on the nose too, plus an aromatic sandalwood note. On the palate the profile moves into a stoniness with a subtle iodine. There are fig, sultana, caramel and of course the distillery’s signature pepper notes too. The finish then winds on and on, with delicate smoke wrapping itself around candle wax and chilli pepper.
Let’s not forget, the spirit has enjoyed over four decades in oak. We’d expect the Talisker smoke to be more muted. But the arrival of the minerality is intriguing – and very likely the ice-blasted casks have something to do with it.
Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Year Old and Parley
The latest release isn’t just an exercise in cask experimentation – although it is a bold one. It's also the third instalment in a trio of expressions developed in partnership with environmental group Parley for the Oceans. A portion of profits from the whisky's bottle sales will be donated to Parley’s work preserving marine ecosystems.
“I have spent nearly my entire life immersed in the ocean and, in that time, I have come to realise just how intimately connected the mountains and ocean truly are,” said Parley ambassador and surfer Greg Long, who took part in the mission to the ice fields.
“The mountains play a vital role in regulating climate patterns, influencing rainfall patterns and temperature variations that directly impact the health of the ocean.
“Protecting and preserving both is essential to maintain the delicate balance of these ecosystems and ensure the well-being of countless species, including humans, who rely on them for sustenance, climate regulation, and recreation.
“I am grateful to work on this project highlighting the beauty and fragility of both invaluable ecosystems.”
An experimental release with a strong environmental message, Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Year Old is a compelling dram. And it’s available now. Just 2,455 bottles have been released globally – secure yours now.
Talisker Glacial Edge 45 Year Old tasting notes from Diageo:
Nose: Rich, dry and mellow overall, with a light peppery prickle at first. Clear maritime top notes speak of tide-line seaweed, sand dunes, iodine; their mineral companions suggest slaked lime and salt crystals. Behind them a faint dried fruit complex with hints of fig, sultana, or prune lends body and richness. Light smoke threads the background, touched by aromatic sandalwood. A drop of water tends to close the aromas yet adds richness to the fruity sweetness, with notes of fruit salad coming through.
Palate: The texture is all-enveloping; smooth and mouth-filling. On first sip the taste starts richly sweet, while it becomes delightfully salty, smoky and increasingly peppery mid-palate; even at this age there is still a fine chilli ’catch’. A dash of water reduces the peppery note slightly and there is more attractive saltiness, suggesting salted caramels.
Finish: Very long, with a trace of candle wax in a glorious chilli pepper effect that grows and glows in the aftertaste. Saltier at reduced strength and slightly less peppery, now with faint scented smoke.