So, what’s the story with Port Ruighe? Wouldn’t you like to know? Well, it’s pronounced Portree, as in the largest town on the Isle of Skye, with ‘Port Ruighe’ being an old Gaelic spelling. The town is based around a large natural harbour, which has been key for business and trade for centuries and latterly has featured some of them there brightly coloured buildings made infamous by a certain children’s television programme. The other thing you need to know is that they have their own top flight (see what I did there) Quidditch team, the Prides, that compete in the British and Irish Quidditch League.
Pride of Portree gears
Now, as mentioned, Port Ruighe was a very important port on Skye, probably the port where the first port wine was brought by trailblazing Scottish merchants (who sought and bought that port to export from Portuguese ports before managing to escort, transport and import that port to their home ports…). You can probably see where this is going. ‘Port’ and ‘port’, are in fact the same word with all of the same letters in the same order. Appropriately enough, Talisker’s new release, Port Ruighe, is finished in port casks.
Talisker have been using port casks to mature whisky since 1898 (just 606 years after Pride of Portree were founded). Port Ruighe is initially matured in American and European refill casks as well as some that have received a deep level of charring especially, before a final finishing period in the aforementioned port casks.
Tasting Notes for the Talisker Port Ruighe
Nose: After a wave of initial sea spray, we get Crayola crayons. Quite a lot of Crayola crayons. There is complexity here too, however, with orange pith and a touch of white chocolate. Demerara, sultana and even sticking plasters emerge briefly along with pleasant plummy, umeshu notes. There is also a soft embers note, which is fairly subtle and takes me back to an occasion when, as a young Cub Scout, we were cooking in the woods. We created a glowing bed of embers under the belief that “they’re the hottest bit” only to be informed that all we’d achieved was “putting our fire out” (sad face).
Palate: Initial characteristic Talisker brine once again but much sweeter than usual. Thick and mouth coating like Talisker Storm with chilli and a little chocolate orange and just a hint of tin. Increasingly smoky – much smokier than the nose suggests.
Finish: Milk chocolate becomes cocoa and oak with mocha notes and the faintest hint of that orange pith once again.
Overall: Alongside the distillery style, which still manages to shine through, there are also similarities with Talisker Storm with the thicker, oilier mouthfeel and wood smoke. Port Ruighe has less barbecue character perhaps but has taken on additional characteristics from the Port casks adding sweetness and different notes such as plum (possibly the best bit) and chocolate.
Owen Barstow includes “the astringent and dusty tang of sulphur dioxide” in his tasting notes, originally circulated by Diageo, so perhaps this isn’t one for Jim Murray (who feels ‘quite’ strongly about anything vaguely sulphurous). Owen however, describes it as “reassuringly volcanic” and I think in this case it will ultimately come down to personal preference.