Extremely impressive. It’s practically a Talisker, but it’s much closer in profile to old waxy/tropical Talisker than young peppery/peaty Talisker. It’s mellow, but balanced and very complex. I’ll chalk up that hit of nuttiness, baking spices, and vanilla to the French oak casks. I’m not sure that Compass Box has really accomplished their goal of a French-oak-matured Peat Monster, since it doesn't really taste like that traditionally Caol Ila-forward blended malt, but what they have crafted is a precocious and delicious Talisker.
Nose: It’s definitely Talisker-forward: there’s lots of sea salt, fragrant black pepper, fresh apples, pineapples, and pears. Grilled pork chop, soot, tide pools, and candle wax. Some delicate barley notes and toasted marshmallows, as well as orange sherbet, grapefruit peel, and dried flower petals. Star anise, clove, sesame, and mustard seed. Creamy cappuccino.
Palate: Medium-oily texture. Wax, toffee, orange peel, key lime, and coffee up front. Softly floral and perfumed. Rich sooty smoke on the development, with crystallized pineapple, damp hay, surf-drenched barley, candied nuts, and vanilla. A sudden blast of toasted sesame seeds, along with spicy cinnamon and ginger-spiced dark chocolate.
Finish: Medium-long, leaving a light texture. Savoury and nutty. Notes of soy sauce and nori join the sesame to complete the shoyu ramen effect. Milk chocolate, cloves, smoked fudge, and grapefruit. Cider-braised pork, pumpkin spice latte, black pepper, seawater, and dank smoke.