A lot of things start to happen in your 40s—you go out on Wednesdays instead of Fridays, you both lose and grow hair in unwanted places, and eating an entire sub sandwich gives you indigestion. A scotch whisky in its 40s is pretty middle-aged too, but Talisker is betting that its new 44-year-old single malt has enough going for it to maintain its vigor and relevance.
Talisker 44-Year-Old: Forests of the Deep Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the oldest whisky this distillery on the Isle of Skye has ever released. It’s known for producing peated whisky that is smoky but nowhere near the levels of its lslay counterparts. The inspiration behind this extremely limited release was a voyage led by Talisker’s partner, conservation group Parley for the Oceans, to kelp forests near the Cape of Good Hope.
Barrel staves were taken along on this maritime journey to soak up the sea air and brine. Back on land, the staves were assembled into barrels that were charred using sustainably farmed Scottish sea kelp and wood shavings, presumably to add a bit of vegetal ocean flavor to the wood. The whisky was put into these barrels for a final finishing period before aging. The fact that it was re-barreled into new casks is likely more significant than the actual fuel used to char said casks, but the story is still pretty interesting.
The brand acknowledges as much, stating the point was to incorporate kelp into the whisky’s story as a reflection of the inspiration and awareness of the cause: protecting kelp forests. “They support biodiversity and sequester and store carbon dioxide more efficiently than the rainforests,” said Cyril Gutsch, the charity’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “This very special and rare edition of Talisker whisky is a tribute to the beauty and fragility of these great forests of the deep, and our collaborative mission to support their protection.”
We did not get to sample this whisky yet, so let’s let whisky expert and author Dave Broom provide the tasting notes. “This is a fascinating, bold, beautifully mature Talisker made in the old, bold, defiant style,” he said in a statement. “Some whiskies become refined and elegant with time, others lighten and move into an ethereal state. A few, however, move in the opposite direction, becoming richer, more complex and concentrated versions of themselves… The oils are magnified, savory elements emerge, and the smoke is retained, binding it all together. It is sweet, savory, smoky and saline… and deep.”
There are fewer than 2,000 bottles of Talisker 44 Years Old available, and only 102 are reaching the US, each with an SRP of $4,500. That’s a bargain for a whisky this old if you can find it for that price—and it’s not much more than that currently at Drizly.