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Talisker question


BlackHive
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I always hear that Talisker is "peppery". What does this mean? Even more important, how in the world can it taste like pepper at all? Do they actually use some type of pepper in making it somehow? So what type of "peppery" is it? Black table pepper? Habanero? Bell peppers? What? It sounds interesting since people say it's warming but I think if I sip a drink that tastes like black table pepper, I just may vomit.

I'm also interested in Laphroaig 10yr but I get a bit confused about how it can taste medicinal. Rubbing alcohol? Cough syrup? What?

I'm just confused, nowhere around here serves either for me to try and I don't want to drop $40+ on a bottle of something I may not like.

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People often use the term "peppery" to indicate a sort of "bite" in a drink -- a chemosensory irritation, rather than a taste. My guess is that's what's meant in describing a Scotch as peppery.

And as for "medicinal" in describing liquor, I've most heard it used metaphorically rather than literally -- in other words, to mean that the liquor in question is unpleasant, not that it tastes like a particular medicine.

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No pepper at all goes into Talisker, or any true Scotch malt whisky, just barley malt, yeast and spring water.

The malt is smoked somewhat during the drying proces over smoldering peat, which gives the whisky some of its characteristic taste. Talisker is more "peaty" than many, and some might interpret this as a black pepper taste ("the peat reek"). Its more like iodine than pepper to me. Laphroig even more so, which is why some might describe it as medicinal. Other detect seaweed, especially in the Island malts, from distilleries on the Scottich isles (not Isla, which is a river).

The whiskey is matured in second fill oak casks. The cask and the first fill, usually sherry or bourbon adds complexity and its own character to the flavour.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I would have thought that a peppery/spicy note was more likely to come from the use of oak barrels for maturation. I can never remember which ones are responsible for spice but I think it is American Oak that does it. European Oak imparts a softer vanilla/butter flavour.

Also Talisker, also known as 'the lava of the Cullins' after the mountain range on Skye and its fiery nature, comes from a pretty cold part of Scotland. Perhaps this affects the levels of evapouration from the cask and as such means that the spirit doesn't mellow as quickly (10-15yrs is not long in Malt terms).

Cheers

Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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i've always thought of talisker as one of the lightest and most immediately appealing single malts. i love them all, but laphroaig can definitely be a bit of a shock the first time. i can see why some people might associate talisker's sharpness with pepper, but i guess i think of it as more of an acidic seasalt-ish crispness. Laphroaig kind of tastes like very good tobacco in some ways I find.

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Ah I see.. so it's mainly the bite and heat that causes the "peppery" remarks. Makes sense. Probably somewhat the same way Knob Creek is "peppery" in that it's fairly hot going down.

As of right now, Lagavulin is my favorite single malt. Love the peat. Love the powerful, long aftertaste. I know it's quite a stretch but how would you say both Talisker and Laphroaig compare to Lagavulin?

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I'm also interested in Laphroaig 10yr but I get a bit confused about how it can taste medicinal.  Rubbing alcohol? Cough syrup? What?

Laphroaig is often called this because it has quite iodine-y flavours to it. This is imparted to the whisky from various factors - where the water has come from etc. If you can stretch to the Laphraoig 15yo I would really recommend it as being a lot better than the 10yo.

One of the heavier style whiskies that I like, and a lot of people don't, is Ardbeg. I find that the 10yo has a unique flavour to it which I suppose can be described as medicinal!

It is commonly held that the Islays are the heaviest and peatiest of the malts. If you are concerned that you won't like these medicinal flavours you might be best sticking to a Speyside.

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As of right now, Lagavulin is my favorite single malt.  Love the peat.  Love the powerful, long aftertaste.  I know it's quite a stretch but how would you say both Talisker and Laphroaig compare to Lagavulin?

It's not a stretch. As island distilleries (Lagavulin and Laphroaig next to each other on Islay, Talisker on Skye), they are similar in character. Lagavulin stands well above the other two, but for half the price, I drink Laphroaig 10y these days. I haven't had Talisker in a while, but that's the one that got me started. I remember thinking it was a bit harsher than Laphroaig, but that's an old and dusty memory not to be relied upon. Either one will serve you well.

I am very happy to have been recommended White Horse in the rob roy thread. It has a lot of Lagavulin in it (same owner). It's not the real deal, but if Lagavulin is your benchmark, then you can't beat it for the price.

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great laphroaig myth i heard was that the distillery in islay is much closer to the waterfront than lagavulin, so that when the angels take there share they leave some of that salty seafront air in the casks which helps give it that oily seaweedy flavour..........

'the trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass'

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Lagavulin stands well above the other two, but for half the price, I drink Laphroaig 10y these days.

I've noticed other people with the same opinion with respect to Laphroaig and Lagavulin, but I must admit that tasted side-by-side I prefer the Laphroaig 10 to Lagavulin 16. I enjoy them both, but to me Lagavulin has a more "medicine-y" (would that be what people call "phenolic"?) taste, while Laphroaig is more smoky. Like ctgm, I also enjoy Ardbeg 10.
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I think that Lagavulin 16yo has become a bit of a "fashion" accessory. Whether it is good or not, it is the right whisky to be seen to be drinking. As a result the demand is outstripping supply resulting in big price increases.

A similar thing has happened with Macallan 18/25/30 with respect to supply & demand.

Lady Oscar - as you have good taste :cool: and like Ardbeg 10yo, have you tried the Uigedale? If so what do you think of it - I find it a bit OTT. The Ardbeg I really like is the Lord of the Isles.

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great laphroaig myth i heard was that the distillery in islay is much closer to the waterfront than lagavulin, so that when the angels take there share they leave some of that salty seafront air in the casks which helps give it that oily seaweedy flavour..........

I heard this about a couple of others as well. At Bowmore the doors of the warehouse open onto the sea , as they do at Old Pultney (the most northerly distillery on the mainland).

Cheers

Ian

Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Lady Oscar - as you have good taste  :cool:  and like Ardbeg 10yo, have you tried the Uigedale? If so what do you think of it - I find it a bit OTT. The Ardbeg I really like is the Lord of the Isles.

I wish! It took me forever to even obtain a bottle of Ardbeg 10. The online places I tried were endlessly out of stock. Finally they built a BevMo near me and, wonder of wonders, they had it. I've never seen any of the other Ardbegs even listed in the online stores. Does anyone have a recommendation for an online shop that has a good selection of single malts and that is in or will ship to the U.S.?

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I wish!  It took me forever to even obtain a bottle of Ardbeg 10.  The online places I tried were endlessly out of stock.  Finally they built a BevMo near me and, wonder of wonders, they had it.  I've never seen any of the other Ardbegs even listed in the online stores.  Does anyone have a recommendation for an online shop that has a good selection of single malts and that is in or will ship to the U.S.?

Let me know where you are in the US and I can tell you who sells it. I have found sellers in FL, NJ, CA, NY, VT, MO, IL, MN, CO, WA and GA and I am sure that there are many others.

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I deal a lot with Ardbeg but never consider shipping to the US. Too many laws, too expensive and I only deal in 70cl bottles which I believe are against the law in the US. (75cl are not strictly legal here).

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Let me know where you are in the US and I can tell you who sells it. I have found sellers in FL, NJ, CA, NY, VT, MO, IL, MN, CO, WA and GA and I am sure that there are many others.

I'm in Pasadena, CA.

The U.S. has so many bizarre liquor laws, and they vary wildly from state to state. I can't blame people for not wanting to ship to us. :sad:

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