There are few more isolated places in Europe than the Isle of Skye. It sits off the Western coast of Scotland exposed to the elements and is regularly battered by storms whipped up in the North Atlantic – its few peaks providing little protection. Skye is a fairly unforgiving place for much of the year, which in part is why it crafts such exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The Isle of Skye is home to the Talisker distillery, which in a little over a decade will celebrate its 200th anniversary. The distillery sits near the end of a long inland loch and draws its valuable water from Hawk Hill, which sits up behind the distillery and is home to birds of prey such as Peregrine falcons.
The actual Isle of Skye is full of indentations and bays – the sea not only surrounds it but also penetrates deep into the island’s heart with no land less than five miles from the coast. And it is this inescapable ocean influence that gives Talisker its unique characters. It’s salty, seaspray and peppery aromas drawn from the Atlantic Ocean that are also blended with a good mix of peaty smoke. The Talisker 10 Year OId is the classic – powerfully maritime yet subtle, it’s younger brother the Talisker Skye more briney and spicy while the Talisker Port Ruighe, finished in Port Wine casks, is richer and decadent with some floral Port undertones.
Talikser’s elegant maritime characters make it not just a whisky to be enjoyed neat, or with a dash of water, but it is also very well suited to a range of cocktails and even dishes. The classic Talisker Old Fashioned is created by mixing a small teaspoon of sugar and water in a whisky glass with two dashes of bitters. Then add ice, a slice of lemon peel and a nip of Talisker Skye before mixing and serve. Or the Bobby Burns; blend a nip of Talisker Port Ruighe and a nip of red vermouth with a couple of dashes of Dom Benedictine and ice in a cocktail shaker. Then strain chilled into a cocktail glass – the perfect recipe for Burn’s night.
Perhaps the best use of Skye’s finest in the Talisker oyster – the briny Scotch character matching well with some freshly opened oysters. While oysters can be enjoyed with a couple of drops of Talisker as dressing, the classic Talisker Oyster is a little more involved. Start with taking a small nip of Talisker and follow it with a large creamy Pacific Oyster. Then pour a little more Whisky into the empty oyster shell and let the Talisker blend with oyster liquor before knocking it all back in a single shot.
Whether washing down an oyster or enjoyed neat, Talisker’s smokey, saline personality makes it a must-have Single Malt in any whisky collection.
Images supplied by Diageo Australia
First published in the Brisbane News