First released in 2013, the Talisker Port Ruighe release followed the Talisker Storm that came out in early 2013 and preceded the subsequent Dark Storm. According to the available official information, Port Ruighe is a combination of whiskey matured in American and European oak ex-bourbon and ex-sherry refill casks, some of which are heavily charred. After initial maturation, the aged whiskies are married and finished in Ruby port casks.
Talisker’s Port Ruighe is the second of three NAS or “no age statement” releases from the Isle of Skye distillery that hit the market in 2013 – followed shortly afterwards by “Dark Storm in 2014. Port Ruighe – pronounced ‘Portree’ – is the Gaelic spelling for the largest town on the Isle of Skye.
Founded in 1830 by two local brothers, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, Talisker originally employed a triple distillation process, more common nowadays with Irish whiskey. In 1928 Talisker shifted to the double distillation process that is still used today.
Talisker has an unusual feature—swan neck lyne-arm pipes. This “loop” in the pipes takes the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol already condenses before it reaches the cooler. It then runs back into the stills and is distilled again. Talisker also continues to use worm tubs as opposed to more modern shell and tube condensers. Worm tubs are effectively a large half-barrel that has filled with cold water. The spirit vapors rise up the neck, pass through the angle in the lyne arm and work through the coils in the worm tub to cool the vapors back to liquid. Worm tubs result in more extended copper contact than modern condensers, and this process is considered to impart a fuller flavor.
In the interest of full disclosure, Talisker makes some of my absolute favorite whiskies. The core profile is lightly peated, delicately fruity, and with a peppery spice finish. Beyond the whiskies, the Talisker distillery may be one of the most scenic distilleries around. Located in Carbost on the Isle of Skye, the distillery sits along the shore of Loch Harport with the spectacularly rugged Cuillans in the background.
Distillery fires were once a very common risk for a distillery and Talisker did not escape this somewhat common fate unscathed. A stillhouse fire on November 22, 1960 completely destroyed the distillery, but unlike some other distilleries which burned down, Talisker was successfully rebuilt. As part of the rebuilding, the owners of Talisker famously ordered five exact replicas of the original stills to help preserve the Talisker flavors. After two years of construction, in 1962, the distillery reopened and has run continuously ever since. Now part of the Diageo stable, Talisker is one of the “Classic Malts” and amongst the top-selling brands of single malt whisky.
But let’s get back to Port Ruighe, after all, that’s why we’re here! Mike D. picked up a bottle in Perth and reviewed this whisky for us! Here are his notes and conclusions:
Color: Rose gold leaning to polished Amber
Nose: Papaya, raisins, chocolate. A bit earthy. Water brings out some malted barley and Jaffa (orange and chocolate mixed together)
Palate: Light smoke, chewy, berries (pluminess more than raisin) a hint of marzipan. Port sweetness.
Finish: Marinated raisins, stewed prunes, and chocolate shavings. Dry with a middle of the palate finish that lingers.
Overall: You need to look closely for the smoke. It shows up on the palate, but is really not particularly noticeable on the nose. As a whisky, for those who like a big sherry dram, I would highly recommend it; for those who are more of a fan of bourbon cask matured whiskies, this is one you might want to stay away from. Personally, I would buy another bottle for stock, but more for sharing, not for personal use. I would rate it a 79 but again, if you are a real sherry lover, it would probably rate higher.
Distillery: Talisker (Diageo)
Type: Single Malt Scotch whisky
Age: No Age Statement (NAS)
Maturation: American and European refill ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, Ruby Port cask finish
Price: $AUD95 at Dan Murphy’s
Availability: Hard to find in the US. Available through UK retailers.
Sample Source: Mike’s own bottle