Diageo has been busy recently, expanding Talisker’s range and adding one-offs and duty-free (sorry, “travel retail”) bottlings such as 57° North. Now they’ve added a permanent port-finished NAS expression with the double-entendre of a name, “Port Ruighe”. Make sure you pronounce that “Portree” like the Scots. Nobody will know what you’re talking about, but at least you’ll know you have the authentic pronunciation. I’m not going to bother with the history of the little fishing village or whatever it’s named after. Suffice it to say this is NAS (my guess 7 to 8 year old, which really isn’t a bad choice for peated malt) Talisker aged in a combination of casks including ex-bourbon, refill European oak, and casks with a “heavy char”. The whisky is then finished in port casks and bottled at Talisker’s standard 45.8% ABV. Unfortunately for the majority of my readers, it appears that this beauty has not seen its way State-side, and (like 57° North) might be something you have to source via your vacationing friends, who are probably downright sick of you by now.
Nose: Aroma is quintessential Talisker seaspray-flecked smoke, black pepper and butterscotch saltwater taffy. After some coaxing, there is a hint of dark chocolate and, at a stretch, raspberry coulis. Blind, I would say this is just regular Talisker 10.
Palate: Syrupy body. Very hot, at first, but resolves slowly into heavy notes of rhubarb, smoked salt, earthy peat, and caramel malt. The port is more readily detectable here, with light red fruits and a slight tartness.
Finish: Very long. Talisker again, with more briney driftwood smoke and deep-earth peat. Drying, with flecks of minerals and some solid oak tannin. Fades with a whisper of tannic grape skins.
With Water: A few drops of water have no apparent effect on the aroma. The tongue burn is significantly tamed, however, and there’s a sense of bakery treats (scones or something) that wasn’t as easy to detect without the water. The finish might be slightly fruitier, with some berry flavors. Try without and then with water.
Overall: Solid, respectable, but not all that different from Talisker Distiller’s Edition, with the same “Talisker plus something fruity” profile. Unlike some wine-finished whiskies, which take on the worst aspects of the wine and lose some of their own identity in the process, this is Talisker through-and-through, with a little top dressing of tart red fruits. A value-add, anyway, and not outrageously priced.