Talisker’s collaboration with Parley for the Oceans is laudable. But I’m skeptical how much “ice-fractured oak casks” have truly contributed to the new Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge. As long as they haven’t done any damage to what surely already was great whisky.
The Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge is the third and final release in a series of experimental whiskies. The Xpedition Oak was finished in casks that included staves that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The Forests of the Deep spent additional time maturing in so-called marine casks (and was excellent). And now there’s the 45-year-old Glacial Edge.
Twelve heavily charred American oak casks were taken onto a voyage into Arctic ice fields in Canada. A cooper had removed the ends of the casks, after which they were left exposed to sub-zero temperatures for 96 hours. According to the press release, “This allowed the extreme cold to fracture the wood which in turn increased the surface area of the casks that the whisky was able to interact with during the finishing period in Scotland.”
I guess, theoretically it makes sense? But it also seems like the freezing temperatures could be highly detrimental to the casks that were used for the Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge. Then again, I’m not expert on wood and casks. If anyone with a better academic understanding of this topic would like to comment on this proces, please do so. Either below or by getting in touch with me.
It’s easy to be cynical. I’m no stranger to the feeling. On the surface, the pitch for the Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge seems a tad try-hard. But Talisker has also managed to put a spotlight on the work Parley for the Oceans does. For example, I’ve picked up a few things on kelp forests and their importance. As I’m sure other whisky drinkers have. That’s thanks to this partnership between a drinks brand and a nonprofit environmental organization.
Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge (49.8%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Elegance personified. Waxy with soft notes of fresh tobacco, dunnage warehouses, sandalwood and forest floor. But there’s a healthy dose of fruits too, led by oranges, pomelo and tangerines, but also some stone fruits. There’s even a touch of strawberry syrup, yet it’s not a fruit bomb either. There are whiffs of moss and heather, as well as kelp and just a few peaty phenols sprinkled on top. Taste: Old Talisker is just… Let me try and describe this experience. The mouthfeel is moderately waxy. It arrives on gentle medicinal peat, menthol and a pinch of white pepper, but there are also notes of liquorice root, driftwood and fennel. To balance things, there’s a toffee sweetness, a decent salinity and a citrus-y freshness. Finish: Long. The pepper builds and lingers for a long time. It’s brine-y, somewhat coastal.
It's still so very fresh after almost half a century in the cask, yet there's a mature elegance that belies its age. The Talisker 45 Years Glacial Edge is a masterpiece, regardless of any cask trickery. I couldn't tell you how much of this to attribute to ice-fractured oak, but who really cares when this is the result?