Together with Glenfiddich and Macallan, Talisker is among the most visited distilleries in Scotland. The name Talisker comes from the Gaelic words Talamh Sgeir or 'Sloping Rock'.
This distillery is located in Carbost, Isle of Skye. It was founded in 1830 by brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill. Talisker and Clynelish, in Brora, are classic examples of 'Clearance distilleries', they were built by landlords who cleared crofters from their ancestral lands. Those landlords then used the cleared peoples as labourers in their farms and other enterprises. All that was possible thanks to laws enacted after 1746 that protected the rights of 'entrepreneurs' to exploit more profitable farming methods.
After the MacAskill brothers cleared some land and brought sheep in, they decided to build a distillery. Cleared peoples helped build and run the distillery. The brothers failed to keep the distillery running and it was surrendered to the bank in 1848. For the next 30 years a series of new owners failed to keep the distillery operational; it kept changing hands until 1880. On that year the owner of Dailuaine distillery bought it and promptly built a pier. The pier facilitated the loading of barrels loaded with whisky onto waiting ships.
Talisker was sold once again in 1892 and Roderick Kemp, the owner, went on to buy Macallan distillery. His business partner owned the distillery until his death in 1916. On that year, a group of blenders headed by John Walker & Son, DCL and John Dewar took over the distillery. After many mergers that collective is now Diageo.
The last major change at Talisker took place in 1928 when the distillery switched from a triple distillation method to the current double distillation method. Talisker suffered a massive fire in 1960. On that year the hatch of one of the pot stills was left open and the heated low wines poured down the the still onto the burners (direct fire was employed at the distillery back then) and the flames quickly engulfed the still house and surrounding buildings. It remains one of Diageo's most important brands.
Talisker Whisky Style
Talisker whisky has earthy, peppery, peaty and sulphury notes that seduce the palate. This style is achieved by a combination of different productions methods. First, the water for the fermentation is sourced from 14 different springs located in the vicinity. The barley is peated at 18-22ppm by Glen Ord's maltings just outside Inverness. The fermentation is rather long and takes between 65 and 70 hours.
The distillery has an odd number of stills (5 in total) and the wash stills have very narrow boil balls at he beginning of the neck. The lyne arms have a unique u-bend with a reflux pipe attached to the bottom. This causes heavier oils to fall back and enhance reflux. The alcohol vapours are condensed using worm tubs submerged in cooling water from the nearest burn. Contrary to popular belief, worm tubs offer less copper contact than condensers. They also aid in adding the 'spicy' and 'sulphuric' notes to the final spirit.
The spirit is aged mostly in bourbon and rejuvenated casks. The vas majority of the liquid is aged in Glasgow.
Talisker single malt whisky
The best known Talisker expression is the classic 10 year old. Most countries with some Talisker presence will definitely have it. The Distillers Edition is aged ususally in sherry casks from extra depth and complexity. The 18 year old is sought after and, very often, it's quite difficult to get hold of.