No trip to Scotland is complete without a tour of a whisky distillery. Whether you’re a fan of the drink or not, it’s a historic part of Scottish culture that is worth learning about. While visiting the Isle of Skye we decided to go on a tour of the island’s oldest working distillery, Talisker.
Located along the rugged shores of Loch Harport, Talisker Distillery has been making single malt whisky since the early 1800s.
Taking the Classic Tour at the distillery gives you an inside look at all of the ingredients and processes that are behind each bottle and finishes with a tasting of their award-winning Talisker whisky.
The 45 minute tour starts in their showroom where they have some information on how whisky is made and Talisker’s relationship with Skye over the years. The gift shop is located here as well. After a quick meet up there we started the guided tour.
Scotch whisky is made out of three ingredients: water, barley, and yeast. Our guide explained where Talisker gets these ingredients and how they work together to start the whisky making process.
As we moved through the different areas of the distillery, our guide explained how malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation take you from the basic ingredients to the finished product, single malt Scotch whisky.
Fun Fact: In order to be called a single malt Scotch whisky, the whisky must be made from 100% malted barley from one distillery and not blended with any other products. It also must must mature in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years.
The last stop before the tasting was a look at the maturation process of whisky in barrels. It was fascinating to me to learn that this process can make such an impact on the end product, even if all the previous steps were conducted exactly the same.
Our guide mentioned that with Talisker specifically their location close to the sea gives their whisky a hint of salt simply due to being stored and matured near the ocean. Pretty cool, huh?
And the finale of the tour: the whisky tasting! Or, if you’re feeling fancy, an expression of whisky, which was called Talisker Storm. I love that our guide told us that every person should take whisky the way they like, which may be neat, with water, or with ice. He did joke, however, that whisky and Coke was unacceptable!
Before I tell you what I thought of the whisky, let me tell you what everyone else thought of it. Our tour was full that day, and everyone else raved about it. We had some people with us who had done several distillery tours, and they remarked on how great the Talisker Storm was in comparison.
Unfortunately straight whisky for me was a bit rough! As a standard white wine drinker, the jump to whisky was just a few steps too far. I think I’m just not used to the taste. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the tour of the distillery and learning about Scotch whisky traditions.
Tips for Visiting Talisker Distillery
Book in Advance – You can book either the Classic Talisker Distillery, the Talisker Flight, or the Talisker Tasting Tour online before your trip. The first is definitely for newbies, and the other two provide more information and tastings (excuse me, expressions) for whisky lovers.
Depending on the time of year and tour you want to take, space may be limited. The earlier you book the better chance you have of getting the tour you want. As the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye, spaces fill up fast.
P.S. You get £5 towards a gift shop purchase when you book a tour.
No Photography – Inside the distillery photos are not allowed. You can take photos, however, at the tasting afterward.
Thanks to Talisker Distillery for providing some photos for this post!
Be Careful Driving – On the way to and from Carbost, the town where the distillery is located, there are many single track roads. Take care when driving, and don’t have more whisky than you can handle during your visit.
Don’t miss out on a tour of Talisker Distillery while visiting the Isle of Skye!