Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt


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One of the things I find most fascinating about whisky is the way in which its story intertwines with the history of Scotland. Many of the nation’s distilleries have been in business for more than 200 years and could no doubt tell a tale or two. If only their ancient walls could talk. The origins of Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye for instance, are rooted in a particularly bleak period of Scotland’s past.


In the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745, highland life was changed forever. The authority of clan chiefs was outlawed, the traditional highland dress was banned and land was stripped from rebel supporters to be redistributed to those who stood loyal to the crown. In the years that followed, new landlords increased rent, forcing tenants into debt as they struggled to keep up payments. With the rise of mass sheep-farming gaining momentum, it wasn’t long before profit-hungry eyes saw potential in their newly allocated land and set about forcibly evicting thousands of families. The people of Skye would not escape such clearances, with some 20,000 people emigrating between 1763 and 1775. In the 40 years that followed 1840, 1,740 writs of removal were served, involving 40,000 people.

In 1825, brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill of Eigg bought Talisker house and the adjoining lands from the MacLeod of MacLeod. In order to make money, they replaced the tenants with sheep and began to build a distillery. Talisker opened in 1830, while all around it the people of Skye were forced from their homes. Many headed south to the central belt, where poverty and disease were rife. Others made for the new world of North America and many died in the attempt. To this day, much of the highlands and islands of Scotland remain barren and empty, stripped of the rich life that once thrived there.

As for Talisker, things didn’t work out too well for the MacAskills either and by 1848 the distillery was in the control of the bank. A variety of owners came and went over the next 30 years until it was bought in 1880 by Roderick Kemp and Alexander Allen. Kemp and Allen ushered in better times and by 1898, Talisker was one of the best selling malts in the country. Ownership would change again in 1916 when a group made up of John Walker & Sons, John Dewar, W.P. Lowrie and DCL took over. This group became United Distillers and later, Diageo.

The 10-year-old Talisker malt has formed part of the Classic Malts range since it was created in 1988 and has since become one of the most beloved drams in the world.

Smell: Brine and Seaweed, some Honey & Heather, a little bit of Dark Chocolate and then lots and lots of Pepper wrapped in a wave of Smoke.

Taste: Intense. Pepper and Sea Salt with a touch of Honey, Vanilla, Lemon and Smoke.

Thoughts: Talisker bottle at a standard abv of 45.8% which helps to dial up the intensity of the experience. I presume it has still been chill-filtered but it doesn’t feel lightweight. Not as smoky as the whiskies of Islay but the peat presence can’t be ignored. Its coastal elements leave the sipper in no doubt as to its origins. This could only have come from Scotland’s west coast. With that peppery hit, Talisker also works rather well with Haggis, by the way. Something to consider when Burns night comes around. The 10-year-old bottling has represented the western isles in Diageo’s classic malts range since the late ’80s and to be honest, it is a classic in every sense of the word. At £35 it won’t break the bank but it offers a big mouthful of fiery, seaside flavour.

*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.


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13 thoughts on “Talisker 10 Year Old Single Malt

  1. Hi I bought a bottle last year when in Sky and was not disappointed easy to drink no water no ice just a lovely dram cheers to you and yours

  2. Just discovered this blog and have been catching up with some of the reviews. As a European living in the US and I can unfortunately comment on the price of the 10 years vs NAS. Talisker 10 costs in average $80 here, I can find it for about 50 Euro in Europe. Oban 14 and Talisker 10 have increased significantly in price in the USA where the demand for these good drams is very high…

    1. I think Oban 14 has climbed in price a little here too, I find it a little overpriced now. Seems to be the run of things, with distilleries releasing a younger, NAS version and pushing the price of the original up. Though I have to say, I prefer that to them replacing it altogether.

      1. Hi I enjoy a dram have you ever tried it with a drop of water just one won a tear drop I live in Scotland so plenty on demand have you ever tried Dalwhinnie winter gold very nice with a drop of water

      2. Lots of whiskies are improved by adding a wee bit of water and some are better left alone I find. Best to just play around and see what you like best.
        I tried the Winter’s Gold at the Stirling Whisky Festival and thought it was OK. I’d like to revisit it some time.

  3. hello. I am french.
    Is there a difference between these two Talisker 18 : the old one in full blue box, and the new one, in the new box where there is a big wave ?
    2nd question : i would like to buy Talisker. The 18 years old is really better than the 10 YO ?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi there,

      As far as I know, there is no difference in the two 18 year olds, it’s just an update of packaging – the whisky inside should be the same.

      Is it better than the 10? Probably. It’s also much more expensive though. The 10 year old is a great malt for the price, but the 18 year old is excellent too. Really just depends how much you want to spend!

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