Age: No age statement
Having launched in 2008, Talisker 57° North is the longest serving member of the many NAS bottlings that now make up Talisker’s range. Of course this says something about the popularity of the 57° North, since unsuccessful whiskies don’t get to stick around for long. This expression is named for the geographical coordinates of the Talisker distillery, which finds itself at a latitude of 57 degrees North. To stay true to the theme, 57° North has been bottled at a strength of… you’ve guessed it: 57% abv. This marks a departure from the standard Talisker bottling strength of 45.8%, providing the 57° North with plenty of oomph on top of an already feisty distillery profile. This one’s going to be fun!
Colour: Pale copper
Nose: Oaky and spicy, with less of that seaside feel we’re used to from Talisker. Despite this, there’s still some kelp lurking in the depths, accompanied by barbecued meat. Aromas of toffee and oatcakes shine through, lightly dusted with a whiff of nutmeg. On the nose at least, Talisker 57° North is less energetic than its 10 year old counterpart.
Palate: Ehm… scratch that. Definitely no lack of energy here! Full-bodied and fiery, Talisker 57° North is a sizzling, searing colossus of a whisky. Of course that’s the alcohol percentage talking, but the palate is also smokier than the nose would have had us believe. It’s the wood smoke variety, balancing with more earthy influences, like blooming heather set on fire. Although this whisky is eminently drinkable even at 57% abv, a splash of water will bring out the oaky, fruity flavours, with notes of blackberries and vanilla custard. Through it all, there’s the signature black pepper – how could there not be in a Talisker?
Finish: Quite long (although not as warming as you might expect), but the aftertaste of cracked peppercorn and charred wood lingers long after the glass is empty. Very pleasant!
Verdict: 57° North is Talisker on steroids. Not only is there a boost in alcoholic intensity, but also in the richness of flavours. Despite this, the classic Talisker attributes continue to shine through, and to me this is a good thing. For a Scotch bottled at near cask strength, 57° North is an extremely easy whisky to drink. What’s less easy to swallow is the price hike that this Talisker has seen over the past decade, with the 1 litre version now costing over €80. While I thoroughly enjoyed this dram, I can think of better whiskies at that price point – some of them Taliskers. Although none of the distillery’s bottlings can match 57° North for sheer intensity, I do appreciate the charred flavours of Dark Storm, or the fruity notes of Talisker Port Ruighe. And don’t even get me started on the delightful Talisker 18 year old (although that too has suffered from inflation). Still, if you like your Taliskers ferocious, 57° North is absolutely the right dram for you!