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Distillery in Focus:          Talisker
Region: Skye
Name: Talisker
Status: Active
Website: http://www.discovering-distilleries.com
Telephone: +44 (0)1478 614 308
E-Mail: Talisker@ diageo.com
Address: Carbost, Isle Of Skye, Highlands, IV47 8SR, 57° 18′ 10″ N, 6° 21′ 22″ W
Visitor centre: Yes
Owner: Diageo
Established in 1830

Technical details:
Water source: Cnoc nan Speireag/Hawk hill
Malted barley: peated to 25 ppm
Malt bins:
Mill: Porteus
Mash tun: Stainless lauter, made in 1998.
Washbacks: 6 made of wood, capacity of 55,000 litres each.
Yeast: Distillers yeast
Fermentation: 60 (week)-90 h (week ends)
Stills: 2 wash (14,706 L) and 3 spirit stills (11,024 L)
Warehouses: 6,000 casks. Majority of the casks are stored on the mainland.
Production capacity: 1.5 mio LPA
Employees: 9 (full time and part time)
Casks used for maturation: refill bourbon (99.5%) and sherry casks (0.5%).
Percentage for single malts: 10% (2006)
Contribute(d) to the following blends: White Horse, Johnnie Walker, Isle of Skye, Poith Dhubh

The distillery of Talisker in 2000


and a hundred years ago, shortly Alfred Barnard's visit (circa 1902)


And shortly later (circa 1908)


Regular Bottling:

Talisker 10 YO 45.8%
Talisker 18 YO 45.8%
Talisker Distillers Edition 45.8%
Talisker 57 North 57.8%

Other bottlings:

Since 2001, several limited editions of Talisker 20 25, and 30 Years Old have been bottled at cask strength. Since 2012, they are bottled at 45.8%. Furthermore, a 1973 28 YO limited to 100 bottles was made for Oddbins, a 175th Anniversary 45.8% in 2005, a Talisker Manager's choice in 2009, a cask strength edition for the Friends of the Classic and another one for the distillery. The oldest official Talisker was a 1975 aged 34 years and released in 2011.

For the tasted whiskies, click here

Several of the official Talisker: A very 8 years old bottled uner the name Dailuaine-Talisker, a 25 YO from the Special Release 2009, a 30 YO from the Special Release 2010, the Manager's choice, Talisker 10 YO (packaging from 2011), Talisker Distillers Edition (Amoroso) and the Talisker North.

History of the Talisker Distillery

The distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, sons of a Doctor from the Isle of Egg. Hugh, in the business of holding and subletting leases of land acquired Talisker house in 1825 and he, with his brother Kenneth, bank agent in Portree, obtained a lease of 21 acres  (8. 5 hectares) at Carbost to build a distillery named after his house. The distillery was built at a cost of £3,000. Kenneth died in 1854 and his brother Hugh in 1863. The distillery was then transferred to a son in law, Donald MacLennan, whose assets were sequestrated in the same year. By 1868, the distillery was leased to J. R. W.  Anderson. He was tried on charges of defrauding in 1880 leading to his bankruptcy and the sale of the Talisker lease for £1,810. The  new  owners  were  men of  substance.  Alexander Grigor Allan was a partner in Grigor & Young, solicitors, Elgin and one of the owners of Glenlossie Distillery.  Roderick Kemp  was a wine and spirit merchant in Aberdeen. Together, they invested substantial sums in rebuilding and refitting Talisker. At the time of his visit, Alfred Barnard reported “The old part of the work is built in the form of a quadrangle, but such important additions have been made to it from time to time during the past nine years that the Distillery has almost lost its identity ... Two-thirds of the property are of modern construction, and contain all the newest  appliances and vessels  known in the art of distilling".  With the change of ownership, the output rose from 300 to 400 gallons a week to over 2000 gallons. At the time of Barnard’s visit, the annual output was 40,400 gallons. A fire destroyed the grain stores in December 1889 and the warehouses were fortunately saved, but with difficulties. The loss was estimated to £2000.

The partneship was dissolved in 1892, when the distillery was valued at £25,070. Allan took over, paying Kemp £12,000 for his share. Three years later, Allan's  trustees  assigned the lease  to The  Talisker  Distillery Co.  Ltd.  That company merged in 1898 with The Dailuaine Distillery Co.  Ltd to form Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. Thomas Mackenzie, DL, JP, became the managing director, and a major shareholder, of the new company. It extended the premises in 1900, and built a pier, a tramway between it and the distillery, and houses to accommodate employees and the excise officer. In 1898, the Talisker distillery was valued to £58,132.

Mackenzie's death led in 1916 to the acquisition of a majority interest in the company by a consortium consisting of John Dewar &  Sons  Ltd.,   W. P.   Lowrie  &  Company Ltd.  (a  subsidiary of James   Buchanan  & Company  Ltd.), The   Distillers  Company Limited and John Walker & Sons Ltd.  With the merger of all of these companies in 1925 under the name of The Distillers Company Limited, Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. became a subsidiary of that company. The triple distillation ceased in 1928.

Talisker Distillery was closed from 1941 to 1945 during the WWII. A fire destroyed the stillhouse on 22 November 1960, leading to major reconstruction. The  five  stills  that had been lost  were  replaced with five exact copies and converted from hand-firing to a mechanical stoker  system.  The distillery re-opened in 1962.  The two wash stills and three spirit stills were converted to steam heating from an oil-fired boiler in 1972.  The floor maltings were closed in the same year and demolished. The offices, the manager's house and No 3 warehouse are the only buildings built before 1960. A vistor centre opened in 1988 and the distillery was licensed to Talisker Distillery Co. Ltd in 1992.

Source: The Scotch whisky industry record by H. Charles Craig,s, The Scotch Whisky Distilleries by Misako Udo, Customs and Excise records (archives), The DCL Distillery Histories Series by Brian Spiller, The Making of Scotch whisky by John R. Hume & Michael S. Moss, Birmingham Daily Post (archives), Dundee Courier (archives)
www.whisky-news.com/Patrick Brossard © 27 Jul 2012.


Old pictures of the stillhouse (source: http://www.royalmilewhiskies.com)

Tasted whiskies (56):

Official/original bottlings (OB)  
Talisker 8 YO, OB, 43%, B:1960s. Rating: 14/20
Talisker 8 YO (Johnnie Walker), OB, 43%, B: 1980s Rating: 14/20
Talisker 8 YO Special Release 2018, OB, 59.4%, B:2018. Rating: 16/20
Talisker Special Release 2021, 8 YO, OB, 59.7%, B :2021 Rating: 15/20
Talisker 10 YO, 10 YO, OB, 45,8%. B: 2005 Rating: 16/20
Talisker 10 YO, OB, 45.8%, B:2016 Rating: 15/20
Talisker 11 YO Special Release 2022,OB, 55.1%, B:2022. Rating: 16/20
Talisker 12 YO (Talisker-Dailuaine), OB, 43%, B: 1980s Rating: 16/20
Talisker 12 YO (Talisker Dailuaine Distilleries) Swiss Import (Bloch), OB, 43%, B: 1970s. Rating: 14/20
Talisker 12 YO, OB, 45.8%, B: 2007 Rating: 13/20
Talisker 15 YO Special Releases 2019, OB, 57.3%, B:2019 Rating: 15/20
Talisker 18 YO, OB, 45.8%, B: 2012 Rating: 14/20
Talisker 18 YO, OB, 45.8%, B:2016 Rating: 16/20
Talisker 20 YO, OB, 62%, B: 2002, 9000 b. Rating: 18/20
Talisker 20 YO, OB, 58.8%, D: 1982, B: 2003 Rating: 16/20
Talisker 25 YO, OB, 57.8%, B: 2004 Rating: 18/20
Talisker 25 YO, OB, 56.9%, B: 2006, 4860 b. Rating: 17/20
Talisker 25 YO,OB, 54.2%, B: 2008, 6708 b Rating: 16/20
Talisker 25 YO, OB, 45.8%, B: 2012 Rating: 15/20
Talisker 27 YO Distillery Exclusive, OB, 58%, B:2021, 2000 b. Rating: 15/20
Talisker 30 YO, OB, 51.9%, B: 2006, 3000 b. Rating: 18/20
Talisker 30 YO, OB, 50.7%, B: 2007, 2958 b. Rating: 18/20
Talisker 30 YO, OB, 45.8%, B: 2012 Rating: 14/20
Talisker 1975, 25 YO, OB, 59.9%, B: 2001, 6000 b. Rating: 18/20
Talisker 1977, 35 YO, OB, 54.6%, B: 2012. 3090 b. Rating: 18/20
Talisker 1985 Special Release 2013, 27 YO, OB, 56.1%, B:2013. Rating: 16/20
Talisker 1991 Distiller’s Edition, OB, 45.8% Rating: 14/20
Talisker Manager’s choice 1994, 14 YO, OB, 58.6%, B: 2009, c. 7147, 582 b. Rating: 12/20
No Age Specified (NAS)  
Talisker 175th, OB, 45.8%, B: 2005, 60’000 b. Rating: 15/20
Talisker At the Distillery Only, OB, 53.9%, B: 2007 Rating: 15/20
Talisker Dark Storm for Travel Retail, OB, 45.8%, B:2015 Rating: 11/20
Talisker Dark Storm, OB, 45.8%, B:2016. Rating: 14/20
Talisker Distillery exclusive, OB, 48%, B:2018 Rating: 15/20
Talisker Game of Thrones House Greyjoy, OB, 45.8%, B:2018. Rating: 14/20
Talisker Neist Point, OB, 45.8%, B:2016 Rating: 15/20
Talisker North, OB, 57%, B: 2012 Rating: 15/20
Talisker Port Ruighe, OB, 45.8%. B: 2013 Rating: 13/20
Talisker Port Ruighe, OB, 45.8%. B: 2016 Rating: 13/20
Talisker Skye, OB, 45.8%, B:2016 Rating: 15/20
Talisker Storm, OB, 45.8%, B: 2013. Rating: 15/20
Talisker Storm, OB, 45.8%, B:2016. Rating: 14/20
Talisker Triple Matured Edition for the Friends of Classic Malts, OB, 48%, B:2013. Rating: 12/20


Independent bottlings (IB) and anonymous Talisker  
Fascadale Island batch 2, 10 YO, Adelphi, 46%, B: 2010 Rating: 14/20
Breath of the Isles 1993, Adephi, 57%, B: 2009, c.3746, 301 b. Rating: 16/20
Cadenhead's (and Duthie's / Duthies)  
Talisker 1957, 20 YO, Cadenhead’s, 80 Proof, B:1977 Rating: 19/20
Talisker 1957, 21 YO, Cadenhead’s, 80 Proof, B:1978 Rating: 16/20
Talisker 1979, Duthie’s, 46%, B: circa 1995 Rating: 14/20
Talisker 1979, 14 YO, Cadenhead’s, 64.3%, B: 1994 Rating: 13/20
Douglas Laing  
Tactical 1973 OMC, 27 YO, D. Laing, 50%, Ref 46910, 264 b. Score : 13/20
Talisker Provenance Young and Feisty, D. Laing, 46%, B:Autumn 2013. Rating: 11/20
Talisker World of Whisky Trilogy N°1 Single Minded, 12 YO, Douglas Laing, 56.3%, B:2023. Rating: 15/20
Gordon & MacPhail  
Talisker 1955, G&M, 53.6%. B:1993 Rating: 19/20
Talisker 1957, G&M, 53.3%. Rating: 17/20
Secret still 01-02 1986, G&M, 45%, B: 2007, c. 1361-3, 1860 b. Rating: 17/20
Robert Watson  
Talisker,  Robert Watson, 80 Proof, B: 1960s Rating: 17/20
Scotch Malt Whisky Society  
Talisker 1976 14.1, 8 YO, SMWS, 64.5%, B: 1994 Rating: 14/20
Talisker 1989 14.17, 20 YO, SMWS, 57.2%, B: 2009, 202 b. Rating: 17/20
The Whisky Shop  
Fiskavaig (Talisker), 27 YO, TheWhiskyShop, 51.3%, D: 1977 Rating: 18/20