One of Scotland’s more remote distilleries, it can best be described by some historical extracts from “The Whisky Distilleries of Scotland and Ireland” (1987).
“The approach to Talisker is through rather bleak countryside which eventually opens up into a green, fertile valley which leads down to Loch Harport, on whose banks the distillery stands.
Talisker – also known for a time as Carbost – has had a colourful history…… It was built in 1830 by the brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill……. The distillery was purchased in 1868 by J.R.W. Anderson, who was later imprisoned for accepting payment from customers for whisky which he claimed had been distilled and placed in bond for them, but which, in fact, never existed”.
The MacAskill brothers, who were said to have been active in the clearances of small tenant farmers from the Talisker estate, were bankrupted in 1848. Volatility and uncertainty seem to have been the order of the day for the next 50 years until a merger took place in 1898 with other whisky interests to form Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Limited. However, even that venture had its problems until it was eventually acquired by a consortium of major Scotch whisky blenders in 1916 and through that route became part of the DCL empire in 1925.
Its island location on Skye’s Minginish Peninsula, remote even by today’s standards, has ensured that the Talisker make has a very distinctive character. It has been bottled as a single malt for many years and is now one of the leading players in Diageo’s Classic Malts collections. I recorded the fact that at the time of my visit in 1985 the then manager, Mr Derek Bottomer, a keen mountaineer, set me on the road with “… a 1972 whisky straight from a sherry wood cask at 64.2% ABV. A magnificent dram, which has been described as halfway between an Islay and a Highlander”. There is nothing to suggest that that is still not the case today!