Welcome to the latest installment in my series about my Scottish holiday. My previous post contains links to all its predecessors in the series.
ARRIVING AT THE DISTILLERY
Tours of the Talisker Distillery are rather popular, so we had an hour to fill in before our tour started. There was an exhibition to look at and a gift shop. These occupied us for about half the time, and then we took shelter in my parent’s camper van for the rest. Here are some pictures from this preliminary period…
Most of the distillery itself was off limits as far as photography was concerned due to the possible triggering of dangerous chemical reactions. To give you an idea of the scale of the operation the whisky is produced in tranches of 30,000 litres at a time. Talisker whiskies are classified as mid-range peaty – not as peaty as the likes of Ardbeg, Islay, Lagavulin or Laphroaig but plenty peaty enough to taste.
The whisky here is double distilled (they used to triple distill until recently). By the time it reaches the end of the distillation process it has an alcohol content of between 64 and 74 percent, and is then diluted with distilled water to reduced this to the desired level which varies between 40% minimum and 57% for the variety which is called 57 Degrees, linking its alcohol content to the latitude of this part of the world.
The fermentation room contains eight giant containers, each at a different stage of the process, while there are two sets of stills. The first set consists of two each with a capacity of 17,000 litres and the second of three each with a capacity of 11,000 litres.
At the point at which it goes into the casks to mature the liquid is clear – the colour comes from the casks.
After we had seen the final stages of production there was the warehouse and a sampling session (a pub single each). In these closing stages photography was allowed again (I, unlike one of the others of our party had actually been listening when we were told this – I was annoyed when this individual piped up when I started photographing in the warehouse implying that I should not have been doing so, but the guide confirmed what I had already known by listening a few moments earlier – I was in the clear).
We decided that the prices in the gift shop were just too high, especially as only one of our three gift vouchers could be used per purchase. The 57 Degrees was priced at £68, while the less strong local stuff was in the region of £40 per bottle. There were also some super-expensive (“Oligarch Prices” as I termed them at the time) bottles. The biggest price tag I saw was £2,400.