Colour: Colour is irrelevant as Diageo usually uses caramel to fix it - but for the records: The 20y is at old gold, the 25y is at old gold and the 35y is one shade paler at jonquiripe corn. The texture of the 20y shows a fat sticky ring at the top of the glass that very, very slowly transform into fat sticky tears and extremely slow legs (great oiliness!), the 25y shows many small sticky tears first that slowly consolidate and form slow legs (another good oiliness) and the 35y shows early bigger tears and slightly faster legs as well as late fat sticky tears (not too bad either).
Nose: The 20y offers a complex profile of grassy, herbal, spicy and slightly peaty aromas with hints of salt all nicely balanced. The 25y has a comparable profile with stronger herbal and less peaty aromas and is hence a little unbalanced compared to 20y. The nosing profile of the 35y is again grassy-herbal that is much stronger than the other two with no peaty aromas at all (but again hints of salt and other spices). I like the 20y most followed by the 35y and the 25y.
Initial mouthfeel: The 20y instantly coats the whole of the mouth with a nice warming feeling and just minor peppery moments (despite 58,8% abv) - the great texture kept its promise. The 25y arrives less coating and somewhat hotter on the palate (56,9% abv) with no bitter or adstringent moments either. The mouthfeel of the 35y is again less coating than the 20y and slightly bitter (tannins, no wonder after 35 years in the cask). Again I like the 20y best followed by the 25y and the 35y this time.
Taste: A truly multi-layered barley-sweet, peaty and herbal flavours profile is unveiled by the 20y that later adds spices, salt and hints of ripe fruits to the party. Really delicious. The 25y shows more wooden and less peaty flavours than the 20y and no salt at all. The 35y owns a more complex flavours profile on the palate (of course) with sugary, herbal, spicy and hints of peaty aromas. It is nicely layered and one to investigate for hours (if you have enough time and whisky). On this dimension I prefer the 35y over the 20y followed by the 25y.
Finish: The 20y owns a very long finish (what else, given the great texture) that sticks to the palate even minutes after I swallowed the dram. It nicely vanishes in waves and has no bitter nor drying or adstringent moments, just great! The finish of the 25y is significantly shorter with more sweeter and less herbal flavours than the taste and again no distracting feelings. The 35y has a longer finish than the 25y but shorter than the 20y that vanishes in waves again but shows some minor bitter wooden notes (that are not unpleasant at all). It adds some sweeter flavours too that are very welcomed.
Some water opens the nose of the 20y very nicely and adds significant more (sweeter) aromas, I like it that way better. But do not add too much as the dram turns flat quite quickly. The reduced 25y gets smoother both in the nose and on the palate but does not add many new aromas, again I like it better with some water added. Adding some water reveils more aromas with the 35y both in the nose and on the palate (especially some delicious peaty flavours).
This is an interesting result: Overall I like the youngest 20-year old Talisker best closely followed by the 35-year old and with somewhat distance the 25-year old. So coming back to my initial question: Older does not necessarily mean better as this set of high quality Talisker proved. Nevertheless all three are really great drams...