Talisker 18 years old (2023)

If you look at the plethora of internet reviewers, bloggers, and commentators, you're sure to come across complaints about price increases over the past decade. The budget of the passionate whiskey hobbyist is getting tighter and tighter. Anyone lucky enough to have hoarded whiskey from years ago is in a very fortunate position. Many are hoarding today to protect against future price increases.

NHowever, I have occasionally heard that whiskey is undervalued or too cheap in the UK. It is claimed that the whiskey makers are not making a profit. They are pressured by rising costs and crippling taxes, which can account for up to 70% of the shelf price in the UK. This could be more relevant for lower-end whiskeys, where supermarkets control store access and push hard wholesale deals to allow deep discounts on a regular basis.

At the higher end of the spectrum, products are far from initial production costs. Take Talisker 18, most of which was distilled in 2002-2003 at significantly lower prices. Storage is relatively inexpensive; Bottling, packaging and marketing are at 2021-2022 levels. I personally can't break down the cost of well aged whiskey by overhead and can't find narrow margins.

A look at Diageo's own 2021preliminary results, we can see that they are reporting an operating profit of £3.7 billion which is a +75% increase on the previous year. The report continues to describe broad growth in Scotch, tequila and Chinese spirits. They're increasing the dividend to investors and are targeting a 10-year annual total return for shareholders to 13%. In fact, most investment professionals see Diageo as a great investment opportunity in 2022 given the public's return to on-sale and continued consumer demand going forward.

Whiskey retailers generally have a hard time carrying large inventories and operating on minimal margins. The immediately sold-out bottles of a given issue are outstripped by those that are more likely to gather dust. Certainly, retailer margins don't seem to be improving...although I know of some driving around in Lamborghinis, let's not dwell on their predicament too long.

Perhaps you thought that all this success celebrated in Diageo's results would be shared with the consumer? Perhaps you were hoping that prices would remain at 2021 levels through 2022? Well, think again. Obviously, Diageo's only duty is to its shareholders; So from February 2022 – at least in the UK – you can expect the following price increases for your favorite Diageo products:

Lagavulin 16 will increase by +42%. This first aged release from Lagavulin was recognized as a reasonably priced whiskey with a relatively high age rating and relatively affordable price. No longer.

Mortlach 16 increases by +39%. This is a distillery that has experienced major price fluctuations in recent years, as it initially "premiumized” with facelift branding and huge price increases before being adjusted to more affordable prices when this experimentation in premiumization didn't resonate with consumers.

Oban 14 increases by +92%. This simple, low strength sipper has a following, but I would hardly justify paying more than the current shelf price.

Talisker 25 increases by +67%. This release is the least accessible to most consumers and currently costs around £300 a bottle. I assume that those who can already afford this whiskey can certainly afford this price adjustment if they wish.

Talisker 18 will increase by +194.5%. When news of this broke in the whiskey world, there was a flurry of purchases to stock a large slug at an affordable price. Interestingly, the new price of the Talisker 18 will be around £250, which is just under the retail price of the Macallan 18. Could this move be motivated by Talisker's premiumization towards the successful Macallan brand rather than offering? -Chain costs increase?

These figures have been independently verified by two independent UK retailers. If and when will these February price increases occur? Currently, Diageo's own website is pricing at 2021 levels, but many of these bottles are now listed as sold out.

Of course there can be a reasonable explanation. I reached out to Diageo to explain what is happening. A Diageo spokesman said:"We do not comment on the confidential details of our terms and conditions with our customers."

Predictions of the whiskey enthusiast's demise, overstated by collectors and speculators, have been around for over a decade... and yet we're still here, drinking and enjoying Scotch. The whiskey hole of the 1980s is dry and well-aged whiskey is now a scarcity for which we have to pay a heavy price. I really hope that asking questions about Diageo's PR and publishing articles like this encourages these producers to look beyond the income statement and consider the importance and value of a loyal customer base. If not, it will look like a hoax to drink Diageo whiskey instead of investing in their stock.

I don't enjoy writing Doom and Gloom, so it's good news that there are still bargains to be had. The Wine Society recently released a 30 year old unnamed Islay Single Malt Scotch for just £140. The well-aged Tormore is still being launched for under £150, but that sort of treat seems to be becoming increasingly rare.

Talisker 18 Years - Review

45,8 % ABV. 80,49 £.


On the nose:Rich toffee, smooth windblown smoke, rich juicy cantaloupe, crushed apple, some dry ash, more buttery toffee, shows a great balance between youthful vigor and aged grace. Peach clafoutis, pinch of salt.

In the mouth:Medium bodied, a little sharp at first, the smoke dissipates into slate toffee apple crumble and some spicy woody notes. This has a really great mid-flavor that takes some time to build and develop as the sip progresses. It is slightly tart with hints of dunnage and then becomes quite elegant, finally there are some spicy oak notes, lingering peat smoke provides a final hint of umami.


If the Talisker 2021 Special Release was about rough, blustery Skye with wind and spray in your face, then this Talisker 18 is a fonder reminder of a warm summer's day of rock formations and a BBQ afterwards.

At £80 I have to agree with Diageo that this seems underpriced. At £125 it would be more in line with similar products from other manufacturers like the Bunnahabhain 18 or the Balblair 18. Raising it to £150 would be cheeky but perhaps wouldn't affect me as that's the way of whiskey these days. At £250 it's outrageous and I'd deduct 2 points from that score in a heartbeat. But at the moment this is great for £80 and maybe worth another point if I was drinking it on a Skye beach.

Result: 7/10

Talisker The Distiller's Edition 2013 Review

48.8% ABV. Maybe around £50 at time of publication. 2002-2013; Double matured in Amoroso casks. This is a bonus dram that I found on the Fisherman's Retreat dram list when I bought the 18 year old.

Color:rose gold.

On the nose:Sweet Peat, Strawberry Jelly, Smoked Raspberries, Fresh Sliced ​​Red Chili, Liquorice, Salted Fennel Seed, Calpol Cough Remedy, Cherry Jolly Ranchers.

In the mouth:Sweet, initially difficult to define, medium-bodied, developing into notes of cherry, somewhat juicy, strong smoky, sweetness fading towards the end and wine and peat combine to give a very drying, slatey, medium-length finish with lingering antitussive effects.


Talisker fans are a special group. Most of them raved about the 2021 Special Releases bottle because it showcased the more powerful side of the distilleryI was unmoved. I imagine the same fans would enjoy this fruity take on distillery production. There is no doubt about its success as the 2020 Distillers Edition was also bottled in Amoroso casks and had a fantastic price of £66.49 but is now sadly sold out. It's a nice whiskey, but I don't want a whole bottle.

Score: 5/10

Photos of Talisker 18 and Distiller's Edition courtesy of The Whiskey Exchange.

categoriesSingle Malt



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