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May 3, 2021updated Dec 20, 2023

Talisker Reveals Oldest Ever Release, Xpedition Oak

The Skye distillery announces new 43 Year Old whisky with renowned adventurer James Aiken.

By Alex Martin

Talisker has revealed the oldest Scotch whisky in its 191-year history. The Talisker 43 Year Old Xpedition Oak: The Atlantic Challenge is a rare liquid that pays homage to the distillery’s special relationship with the wild seas that surround its Isle of Skye home.

The distillery’s signature sea salt and smoky sweetness flavor profile has always been heavily influenced by the warm sea air that arrives across the Atlantic. Talisker has put those influences into overdrive with the Xpedition Oak by using staves (sections of casks) that had sailed across the great ocean.

Renowned adventurer James Aiken was charged with the task of guiding the staves 3,264 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. The 24-day journey exposed the staves to intense conditions and supercharged their potential to influence the whisky. The staves were returned to Skye, turned into 10 casks and filled with an already four-decade-old liquid to give it an intense final maturation.

[See more: The Most Expensive Whisky Ever Sold at Auction]

As you would expect, sea salt dominates on the nose and palate, but there is a complex layer of sweetness lying underneath. At a natural strength of 49.7 ABV, the Talisker Xpedition Oak is perfect for drinking neat. Those who prefer to add water only require a few drops to open up deeper layers of freshness and lengthen an already long finish.

Ewan Gunn, senior global brand ambassador, said: “This whisky is a sublime single malt that captures the pinnacle of the key aromas of Talisker – spice, sweetness, waxy and creamy, with a sense of the sea salt spray the morning after a storm. The four decades of maturation have given a full flavor, yet a softness to this bold dram resulting in a rounded and elegant experience.”

[See also: The Best Scotch Whisky Brands in the World]

Parley for the Oceans

Aiken single-handedly navigated untamed seas, undertaking the same route of the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. His journey was not just to take the staves across, but to raise awareness of ocean conservation efforts. To help the cause, bottle number one of the Talisker Xpedition Oak will be auctioned to raise funds for Parley for the Oceans, potentially raising thousands for the cause. The distillery is working with Parley in its mission to protect and preserve 100 million square meters of marine ecosystems by 2023.

Aiken said: “Most of my life is focused on the ocean, and the variety of ways that we can interact and learn from it. This expedition taught me even more and allowed me to connect with nature’s elements in an entirely new way. Over 24 days, sailing from La Gomera, Spain, to the island of Antigua, I crossed the Atlantic solo aboard my boat Oaken Yarn. I cared for the wooden staves aboard ensuring their safe passage. The crossing was an almost meditative experience in nature: both challenging and a joy.”

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In honor of the release, Talisker has also invited the adventurous to apply to join Aiken on a rewilding adventure on the Isle of Skye. One entrant will be selected to explore the rugged terrain and wild seas with the seasoned explorer.

The release is limited to just 1,830 bottles in honor of Talisker’s founding year and will be released globally in May for £3,500 (approx. $4,900).

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