Day 7 – @
Côquetel Spirits is always up for a treat, even on Sundays. We went to discover the emblematic distillery of the Isle of Skye, Talisker.
The distillery was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth Macaskill at Carbost during one of the darkest chapters of Scottish history. Land-owners across northern Scotland wanted to increase the yield of their land to create even more wealth. One easy way was to enter into large-scale sheep farming. Sheep need pasture and farmers which for centuries had held land were driven from their homes to make room for the sheep. Thousands of families were ruthlessly evicted, some of them forced to seek work in the coal mines or in the fishing industry while many saw no other opportunity but to immigrate to Australia or America.
On Skye, the MacAskill brothers managed the Talisker Estate, owned by the MacLeods. They continued the eviction of farmers started by the previous leaseholder and created the distillery.
Compared to the rest of the industry, Talisker carries on a pretty short fermentation of 60 hours giving cereal and floral flavours.
For the distillation, the distillery operates 3 spirit stills, and 2 wash stills (high height and horizontal lyne arms with a right angle turn with a reflux pipe allowing for greater copper contact) giving Talisker its world-known peppery and spicy flavours.
Unusually, the distillery continues to have worm tubs rather than column condensers.
The result is a mid-peaty Island whisky (around 20ppm, the scale used to measure peat). We had the chance to taste three expressions:
Distillery exclusive (only available on site), the 18 years old and the limited release 8 years old at cask strength (59.4°).
The big winner was the 8 years-old matured in first-fill ex-bourbon cask which, despite its relatively small age, offers powerful spicy and peppery notes in the mouth and a smoky aftertaste. It is like velvet in the mouth thanks to its waxy texture. If you have the chance to come across one of these, close your eyes and buy it.