by UK Flower Girl
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
September 29, 2004
Our guide started the tour with a discussion of the ingredients of scotch: water, (malted) barley, and yeast. Sitting on the other side of the window is the mill that breaks open the barley. Next you visit the mash tins, and then onto the still house where you can see all five stills and the spirit safe. Next it is on to the warehouse where all of the spirit is stored in barrels. In Scotland, you must mature the whisky for three years in order for it to be called Scotch whisky; Talisker matures theirs for at least ten.
Stills are an important part of any distillery. Each distillery uses a different shape and have beliefs why it should be that shape. There are many reasons why Scotch tastes different when it all comes from the same ingredients; the still shape is one of them. Talisker has five onion-shaped copper stills — the two larger stills are used for initial distillation and the rest are used for the final distillation. Talisker, among other distilleries, used to distill their Scotch three times, but now does this only twice. A fire in 1960 destroyed the still house, which required five exact copies of the stills that burned in order for Talisker’s flavour to remain the same. Thankfully, the spirit came out just as it used to.
Notice the pagoda chimney that rises above the roof. These chimneys are from the peat-fired ovens, which give the Scotch its smoky aroma and flavour. Distilleries used to dry the locally produced malt, but most distilleries now use malt that is peated elsewhere to their own specifications and have it shipped in to the distillery.
I try to like Scotch, but it is vile every time I try it; yet, it is still an interesting process.
Talisker is not a good beginner Scotch with its strong smoky, peaty flavour (due mostly to the peaty water in the area — so peaty that the tap water in the bathroom came out reddish-brown).
Definitely worth a visit if you have never visited a distillery. Oban Distillery was my favourite, and I learned a lot more than I did here at Talisker. Then again, they all do the same process, and it gets monotonous after a while.
Contact +44 (0) 1478 614308 for up to date information on opening times and days.
From journal Hebridean Island Hopping