The nose on the Talisker 8 Year Old 2018 Special Release opens with seaweed pickling in an old oil drum, sitting by the oar-hole in an old Greek trireme. It’s perky and plucky and Rudy-like; it rallies and Never. Gives. Up. It’s a glue guy! (No, Stephen, not a “gloog-eye,” whatever that might be.) I love the Talisker 10 and now that I taste it, the 8 is so revelatory, it’s making me wonder about a hypothetical Talisker 6—or even a more-hypothetical Talisker 4. It’s like a humble middle child, destroying expectations, unexpectedly, surpassing the age-dominance of an older sibling and the much-beloved-by-the-parents youngest. I got whitefish grilled over apple and cherry wood, that were sappy, freshly sawn from trees in an Andalusian orchard. When my back was turned, Stephen also threw in a few Louisville Slugger baseball bats (Derek Jeter model), which imparted an even ashier, sassier smoke.
The mouth isn’t nearly as hot as the 118.8 proof suggests it should be, and when John went out looking for it, he came back, eventually, noting that he found it—oxymoronically—in the form of frost clinging to a copper downspout by the sea. I found that it was negatively-peated, and it was my mind that filled that space with my notion of what Talisker peat should be. Stephen found that it was full and rich without being cloying; verily, it’s gravity without mass. Take that, Einstein! It’s like someone took a lump of sulfur, carved it into a lamp, found a genie to inhabit it, then rubbed it so often that it transmuted, like a metamorphosed metaphor of Ovid, into some transcendent yellow beryl with manticores carved into the sides.
The finish is sticky like a thick pudding and smoky like thick, fatty bacon stapled to ash planks, then grilled directly over the flames of a tame fire that they serve at the fusion-food BBQ joint “Bar Meatzvah,” run by apostate Jews in Huntsville, Alabama. That is to say, it’s not what you’d expect, even when you’re expecting. It goes on and on, like a Bloomsday reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and doesn’t ever taper off, as much as at a certain point, it decides to take its leave of you, leaving you with the regret you felt when you meant to order Chateaubriand, but mistakenly asked for cuisses de grenouille, aka frog legs. Well, at least it wasn’t the escargot!
On the scale of movies with sensitive portrayals of teenage angst and insecurity–
The Talisker 8 Year Old 2018 Special Release is Eighth Grade. –What, you were hoping for 8mm or Eight Men Out or Ocean’s Eight or 8 Mile or The Hateful Eight? Nope, you get the unflinching, affecting dissection of what life looks like to *shudder* young people confronting the internet and themselves, not yet of age and thus, sadly, unable to legally enjoy the many riches and delights of the Talisker 8.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample (which was not the bottle pictured, which Stephen bought himself after trying the sample).