Here, lodged far from any neighbour in the small coastal community of Carbost at the head of Loch Harport, is one of the finest yet most remote distilleries of all. It was in 1825 that came here from the smaller island of Eigg, first to bring sheep to Skye, then to bring Skye’s wild spirit to the world.
Leasing Macleod land at Carbost, the MacAskills built Talisker Distillery in 1830 against the fiery protestations of the abstainer and former parish Minister, the Rev. Roderick Macleod, who declared this “one of the greatest curses that… could befall it or any other place”. However, it wasn’t long before their elixir was commented on more favourably, by no less a writer than Robert Louis Stevenson. These succinct lines appear in a poem which might have been subtitled “A Simple Guide to Malt Whisky” – “The king o’drinks as I conceive it, Talisker, Isla or Glenlivet” The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad – RL Stevenson 1880.
Stevenson’s words clearly had their own effect. The workforce quickly grew and Talisker became the successful enterprise, which it remains to this day. But not everything ran smoothly during the distillery’s history. In November 1960, a simple lapse of concentration led to the leaving open of a valve on the No. 1 spirit still, which was then still coal-fired.
When the spirit reached boiling point a disastrous overflow occurred onto the flames below and the resulting fire burned down the still-room. The distillery was rebuilt fastidiously around exact copies of the old stills. Today, its seductive malt enjoys more adherents than ever before, many of them introduced to Talisker’s™ charms by its place among the Classic Malts.