ISLANDS SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY
Talisker has retained the five still set-up and continues to produce a highly individual new make which mixes smoke, fruit, sulphur, salt and pepper. The malt is medium-peated, the worts clear and the fermentation long. It is in distillation that things go slightly strange.
The wash stills are very tall. This refluxes any heavy elements back into the body of the still to be redistilled. After rising up the ‘U’, the lyne arm coils itself inside cold worm tubs.
While there is a lot of reflux taking place, there is little copper contact which provides the sulphury notes in the new make, and could give the signature pepperiness in the mature spirit. The purifier pipe adds oiliness, while the reflux helps to refine the fruity elements created during fermentation.
In contrast to most distilleries where the spirit stills are the workhorses, at Talisker the second distillation takes place in small plain stills, again with worm tubs. This adds mid-palate weight. Maturation is in refill and rejuvenated casks. We also use with ex-fortified wine casks for the Distiller’s Edition and Port Ruighe expressions and occasional special releases.
Talisker’s founders, brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill were classic Clearance landlords. Having bought the tack [rent] of Talisker House on Skye and extensive lands in 1825, they set about forcibly shifting the resident population from their farms, either to new settlements at Carbost and Portnalong on the shores of Loch Harport and Portnalong, or off the island entirely.
As well as replacing subsistence farmers with more profitable sheep, another of the MacAskill’s money-making schemes was distilling. In 1830, they opened their Talisker distillery in Carbost using the cleared populace as its workforce.