Talisker Whisky Distillery & Story
Talisker whisky distillery is the only one on the Isle of Skye. Talisker (tal-iss-kur) takes its name from a farm near the village of Carbost.
How the Talisker Whisky Distillery story began
Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, brothers originating from the Isle of Eigg, built the distillery in 1830. Hugh was a senior tenant farmer, who leased land to others and had acquired the lease of Talisker House.
The lease is transferred to the North of Scotland Bank in 1848, who appoint Jack Westland to run the distillery.
Kenneth MacAskill passes away in 1854.
Three years later the North of Scotland Bank sells the Talisker distillery to Donald MacLennan for £500.
Donald MacLennan struggles with making the distillery viable and offers it up for sale in 1863.
Two years on Donald MacLennan appoints John Anderson as an agent based in Glasgow. His company Anderson & Co take over the distillery in 1867.
In 1879 John Anderson is imprisoned for fraud. Selling non existing barrels of whisky.
The partnership of Roderick Kemp, a wine and spirits merchant and Grigor Allan the Procurator Fiscal of Morayshire, introduced significant sums of money in rebuilding and refitting the Talisker whisky distillery between 1880 and 1887.
At the time the Talisker whisky had gained a reputation for itself. The famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned Talisker in a poem, ‘The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad’ in 1880,
The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it,
Talisker, Islay or Glenlivit.
In 1892, Roderick Kemp sells his shares and buys The Macallan distillery on Speyside. Sole ownership passes to Grigor Allan. Who two years later forms the Talisker distillery Ltd. Grigor Allan passes away the following year. Leaving business partner Thomas MacKenzie to take over.
In 1898 Talisker merged with Dailuaine to form the Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. This company invested heavily into the distillery by extending the premises at Talisker, They built a pier with a tramway to link it to the distillery and provided houses to accommodate the employees and excise officer.
During 1916 Thomas MacKenzie dies and the distillery is taken over by a consortium, who’s main characters are John Dewar, John Walker, W P Lowrie and the distillers Company (DCL)
In 1925 United Distillers acquired the distillery ownership. Three years later ceased triple distillation in preference of double distillation
In November 1960 a simple lapse of concentration led to the leaving open of a valve on the No. 1 spirit still, which was at the time coal-fired.
As the spirit in the still reached boiling point a disastrous spill over occurred allowing spirit to reach the flames below. The resulting fire burned down the stillroom.
The distillery was rebuilt meticulously around exact copies of the old stills. Reopening in 1962.
The distillery’s floor maltings were demolished in 1972.
In 1988 United Distillers selected Talisker for their Classic Malts series. The distillery visitor centre opens.
The Talisker distillery is partly refitted with a new stainless steel mash tun and five new worm tubs are fitted in 1998.
In 2014 the distillery installed a new cooling system of using sea water to cool the spirit in the worm tubs.
The Talisker Whisky Distillery
Founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill.
Location; Island region. Carbost on the isle of Skye.
Water Source; Springs on Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill)
Talisker Distillery Equipment.
8 tonnes Copper domed Stainless steel mash tun.
8 Oregon pine washbacks. Fermentation time of 65 to 75 hours.
5 stills consisting of;
2 wash stills with special u-shape Lyne arms and external purifiers.
3 spirit stills, all 5 are connected to the wooden worm tubs.
5 copper worm tub condensers.
Matured in American oak bourbon casks with some European Oloroso sherry butts for double maturation.
Our Top 3 Talisker whiskies
Take a tour of the Talisker Whisky Distillery
The Talisker Whisky Distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day. A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.