While we can lament the loss of the annual Caol Ila Highland bottling in the special edition, we can't complain about it being replaced by an 8-year-old Talisker. This is the third release to be made as part of a special release, all showcasing different aspects of Skye Distillery's salt and pepper, smoke and ocean styles.
Ripeness is described here very simply as "heavily peated and barreled". I had the pleasure of speaking with ambassador Ewan Gunn before delving into the range, as this is not a whiskey matured in casks that once held heavily peated whiskey, as this would suggest. Instead, Craig Wilson and the mixology team took a pack of Talisker casks and tested the phenol levels in the mature spirits, selecting only those with the highest readings—the casks with the most smoke—with in this release. A talisman with dialed smoke? Count me in.
Nose: Rich and salty smoke coming out of the glass: beach campfire and buttery biscuits. Earthy notes of mineral and gravel contrast with orchard fruit puree; a fresh salt and pepper sea breeze blows a rich, earthy peaty smoke. Notes of barley sugar and fruit jelly emerge, along with moist green fern.
Taste: A burst of sweetness reverberates, revealing rich smoke, licorice and anise. Chocolate, spice, and moist earth build up, with chocolate becoming creamy as notes of salted caramel and leafy greens develop.
Finish: Sea breeze and a beach bonfire, like the beginning of the nose - full circle. Sweet applesauce and a touch of surf linger.