Carbost, Isle of Skye, Inverness-shire, IV47 8SR, 01478 614308. Diageo. http://www.discovering-distilleries.com/talisker/
APPEARANCE AND LOCATION: ***** I’ve said it before, but this is the ultimate place to put a distillery. That famous shot which is in lots of whisky books shows the loch, the hills and then the Cuillins behind with the distillery tucked into the middle ground. From the distillery itself, you cannot see the set of Medieval surgical appliances which class as moutains, but on the road to Talisker they cannot be missed. Be prepared to stop, because it is safer doing that than ploughing on into oncoming vehicles because you have forgotten you are in charge of a car.
‘Talisker Distillery Tour’: £6. See ‘My Tour’ below. Children between 8 and 17 gain entrance for £3.
‘Talisker Tasting Tour’: £20. Lasting 2 hours, this is a more in-depth Talisker experience with access to areas which are normally “off-limits”, a taste of five different Taliskers and a free nosing glass to take away with you. The man I met on the tour at Benromach had been on this one and thoroughly recommended it. If you think what five Taliskers means: that’s the 10YO and 18YO at least from the standard range, and he said he received the 57N, the 25YO and the 30YO. You would, wouldn’t you? Phone up the distillery to book, and make certain of which days they are offering this experience.
DISTILLERY-EXCLUSIVE BOTTLINGS: N/A
My Tour – 07/05/2010
THE RUNNING COMMENTARY: **
THE PROCESS AND EQUIPMENT: **
Notes: We were told as we bought our tickets that there was a chance we might not see the stillroom due to mainenance taking place. As it was, we did see the still room, and they are quite magnificent. All of the ornamentation is on the wash stills: the boil-ball ad the U-shaped lyne arm. The spirit stills are squat and plain by comparison. As we entered the warehouses one of the German motorcyclists turned to me, smiled and went “Mmmm.” I took this to mean that he liked the smell and whilst it was, indeed, divine, I could detect no seaweed or spicy, smoky sweetness. Obviously that isn’t how things work for peated whiskies. We were behind a a sealed viewing window, so that might have filtered out the local maritime air, but Michael, our guide, insisted that the “salty, seaweedy air” was being sucked into the cask to replace the volume lost in alcohol and water. The oldest cask was from 1979, and Michael gave the very exact estimate of how much of the cask’s original volume they expect to find in it: only 38%. Just over a third full. That is why your older whiskies cost so much. Casks are used as many as three times, and must be filled with grain spirit before they house Talisker. The malt used to be triple distilled, but it isn’t now.
GENEROSITY: (1 dram)
VALUE FOR MONEY: *
SCORE: 5/10 *s
COMMENT: A good tour, don’t get me wrong, but not a sparkling one. Michael knew his stuff and more besides, but there wasn’t a great deal more to see than you could find in Diageo distilleries closer to home. The views as you walked around the site of the ever-improving day, however, were singularly wonderful. The trademark smell of Talisker was subtle thoughout the production areas, and I got a stronger whiff of peat from the Benromach mash tun than this one. It was covered, though. The smell outside as I locked up the bike was gorgeous: super sweet and creamy. As I say, I would have loved to have raved about how the sea and the seaweed had permeated the warehouse atmosphere, but I just couldn’t detect anything beyond old stone and wood. A bone to pick, though: why don’t Diageo have a universal glass that they use? Some of their distilleries use the Glencairn, some an oddly shaped stylised Sherry glass. Well at Talisker do you know what they give you in which to savour one of the best 10YOs in the world? One of those appalling tumblers they give you in really rustic, cheap pubs. It’s like going to Chateau Neuf Du Pape and receiving one of their prime vintages in a Styrofoam cup. Why do it?!