Photograph: Scott Denham

Talisker Distillery

Talisker Distillery is located at 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 distillery was built in 1830 by Hugh & Kenneth MacAskill, and expanded in 1900. During this early period, the whisky was produced using a triple distilling method, but changed to the more conventional double distilling in 1928. The distillery was nearly destroyed by fire in 1960, however five exact replicas of the original stills were constructed to preserve the original Talisker flavour.

Talisker was a favourite whisky of writers Robert Louis Stevenson & Henry Vollam Morton, and contemporary bassist Christopher Sadlers.

The distillery operates five stills, two wash stills and three spirit stills. All the stills use condensing coils rather than a modern condenser, which are believed to give the whisky a “fuller” flavour (itself an indication of higher sugar content).


Talisker is known for its above average peat content, and “salty” (or “spicy”) character. While the brand is generally well-accepted and sells well, the high phenol level and distinct taste may prove “challenging” for the casual whisky drinker. The distiller began producing special bottlings of the whisky for connoiseurs 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 was, despite being more expensive than the 20-year bottling, distributed more widely. Both have proved to be relatively popular.

The malt used is peated to a phenol level of approximately 25 parts per million (ppm), which is quite high. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag, flows over peat which adds additional peatiness to the whisky.

Both Johnnie Walker and Drambuie (a liqueur, not a whisky) use Talisker as a component of their blended drinks; its presence is most notable in Walker’s Green Label 15 Year Old Pure Malt.