Probably one of the most widely known Island distilleries, Talisker is the only distillery on the rugged and beautiful Isle of Skye, a much larger northern cousin to our beloved Islay, it is even connected to mainland Scotland by road. Talisker distillery is located in Carbost, on the western side of the Island.
Considered lightly peated, generally to approximately 20ppm, Talisker whisky is widely renowned for it's salty, maritime character, although this is very hard to find in some versions. Unfortunately, they use chill filtration, in (at least to my knowledge) all their bottlings, and only bottle at 45.8%, with the exception of their '57 degrees north' NAS version, which is 57% ABV. Speaking of which, although their core offering is still the 10 year old, they are now leaning towards mainly NAS (Non-Age Statement) bottlings as their core range, with a number of these bottlings being released recently, and none have been very good, in my opinion.
My pick of their bottlings would be either the '57 degrees north' or the 18 year old, although the older releases of their sherry-finished 'Distiller's Edition' is very good as well, if not a little too gentle compared to the standard releases.
Distillery location: Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Owner: Diageo, operated by United Distillers
Producing since: 1830
General whisky style: Lightly peated, salty & maritime (most bottlings)
I wish Talisker (and Diageo) would allow their whisky to shine through in it's natural state, by stopping chill filtration, and releasing some cask strength bottlings. A 12-16 year old, cask strength, non-chill filtered Talisker (without any fancy cask finishing) could be a truly fantastic whisky, and would put the distillery back on the radar of the whisky enthusiast. At the moment, one must search for an independent bottling to find such an animal, and even then they're quite rare. If they were to follow in the footsteps of Glenlivet, for example, and release a Nadurra (natural) bottling, it could be a stunner. Come on Diageo, make it happen!
Nevertheless, Talisker do produce some fine whisky, and their 10 year old is a great introduction to peated / maritime whiskies. Cheers.