Talisker distillery

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"Talisker" redirects here. For the settlement, see Talisker, Skye. For other uses, see Talisker (disambiguation).
Talisker distillery 100212.jpg
Region: Island
Location Carbost, Isle of Skye
Owner Diageo
Founded 1830
Status Active
Water source Carbost / Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill)
Number of stills 2 Wash stills
3 Spirit stills
Age(s) 10 Years
12 Years
15 Years
18 Years
20 Years
25 Years
30 Years

Talisker distillery is an Island single malt Scotch whisky distillery based in Carbost, Scotland—the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. The distillery is operated by United Distillers and Vintners for Diageo, and is marketed as part of their Classic Malts series. The brand is sold as a premium whisky.


The distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and built in 1831 at Carbost after a number of false starts on other sites when they acquired the lease of Talisker House from the MacLeod of MacLeod. The distillery was rebuilt 1880–87 and extended in 1900. When a new lease for the distillery was negotiated with the chief of Clan MacLeod in 1892 the annual payment was to be £23.12s and a ten-gallon cask of best-quality Talisker. It was rebuilt in 1960 after a stillhouse fire completely destroyed the distillery. The distillery operates five stills; two wash stills and three spirit stills. All the stills use worm tubs (condensing coils) rather than a modern condenser, which are believed to give the whisky a "fuller" flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content). During this early period, the whisky was produced using a triple distilling method, but changed to the more conventional double distilling in 1928. Talisker was acquired by Distillers Company in 1925 and is now part of Diageo. After the 1960 fire, five exact replicas of the original stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavour. In 1972 the stills were converted to steam heating and the maltings floor was demolished. Talisker’s water comes from springs directly above the distillery via a network of pipes and wells.

The malted barley used in production comes from Muir of Ord. Talisker has an unusual feature—swan neck lye pipes. A loop in the pipes takes the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol already condenses before it reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again. Talisker now has an annual output of three and a half million litres of spirit.

Talisker was the favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson and HV Morton. In his poem "The Scotsman's Return From Abroad", Stevenson mentioned "The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet."


The malt is peated to a phenol level of approximately 18–22 parts per million (ppm), which is a medium peating level. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), flows over peat which adds additional complexity to the whisky.

The distillery began producing special bottlings of the whisky for connoisseurs in the early 2000s, with a 20- and 25-year bottling (where previously only a 10-year and 18-year were available). The 25-year bottling, despite being more expensive than the 20-year bottling, was distributed more widely.

In 2007 Talisker 18-year-old won "Best Single Malt In The World 2007" at the World Whiskies Awards.[1]


A look into the treasury with barrels, aged more than 35 years
  • Skye, a flavour-led expression
  • Storm, a flavour-led expression
  • Dark Storm, a flavour-led expression and travel exclusive using heavily charred barrels
  • 10 years, bottled off-site
  • 12 years, only available to Friends of the Classic Malts members
  • 18 years, unavailable in some areas
  • 20 years, limited run of 9,000 bottles
  • 25 years, limited run of 21,000 bottles
  • 30 years, limited run of 2,958 bottles
  • Distiller's edition, finished in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks
  • 57° North, a bottling with 57% alcohol
  • Port Ruighe, Port cask finished

Reviews and accolades[edit]

Talisker whiskies have generally performed very well at international Spirit ratings competitions and have won some acclaim from liquor review organizations. The 10-, 18-, 25- and 30-year Taliskers have been awarded mostly gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.[2] The 10- and 18-year varieties, meanwhile, have received scores of 85-89 and 90-95 from Wine Enthusiast.[2] Spirits ratings aggregator proof66.com, which averages scores from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Wine Enthusiast, and others, classifies Talisker's 10-year scotch in its highest ("Tier 1") performance category.[3]

Talisker Distiller's Edition won Best Islands Single Malt at the 2013 World Whiskies Awards.[4]

References in popular culture[edit]

In the short story "The Last Church" by Graham McNeill, published in the Horus Heresy compilation Tales of Heresy, the two protagonists are shown drinking Talisker.[5]

Talisker is repeatedly referenced in the BBC Radio 4 comedy Cabin Pressure. Three separate episodes ("Edinburgh" in series 1, "Paris" in series 3 and "Timbuktu" in series 4) revolve around First Officer Douglas Richardson's attempts to steal 25-year aged Talisker whisky rightfully belonging to the wealthy regular passenger Mr Birling, and it is also mentioned in several other episodes.

In the movie Charlie Wilson's War, CIA agent Gust Avrakotos presents US Rep. Wilson a bottle of Talisker. The agent explains to Charlie the scotch is mentioned in a Robert Louis Stevenson poem, 'The Scotsman's Return From Abroad'.[6] The bottle is bugged and allows him to listen to the congressman's conversations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Whiskies Awards 2007". Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  2. ^ a b "Proof66.com Talisker Page". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Proof66.com Talisker Page". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  4. ^ "Talisker Distiller's Edition wins Best Islands Single Malt". Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  5. ^ McNeill, Graham (2009). "The Last Church". In Kyme, Nick & Priestley, Lindsey. Tales of heresy (mass market paperback) (print). Horus Heresy [book series] 10 (1st UK ed.). Nottingham, UK: Black Library. pp. 323–373. ISBN 978-1-84416-683-1. 
  6. ^ http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/stevenson/scotsmans_return_from_abroad.html


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°18′10″N 6°21′22″W / 57.30278°N 6.35611°W / 57.30278; -6.35611