PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
Part of a press trip to The Singleton of Glen Ord and Talisker Distillery.
Traveling to Isle of Skye
The journey to Skye is quite a long one. So it can be good to be aware of a few spots where it’s possible to stop on the way. One stop you shouldn’t miss is the famous Eilean Donan Castle. It is located about a 15 minute drive from the Isle of Skye bridge, but keep in mind that there’s usually quite the distance itself to get anywhere on the island once your there. Eilean Donan offers some lovely views of photo opportunities. You can also find a souvenir shop and bathrooms here if needed. I found that the best photo opportunity was to the right of the start of the bridge, looking towards the castle. There’s a little opening here and you avoid most of the tourists who are taking photos on the bridge.
If you are visiting Talisker Distillery then it is about a 1 hour drive from the bridge.
On our way back from Skye we stopped at Cluanie Inn for a comfort break. There’s a bathroom by the petrol station but also inside the inn. Right across the road there’s also the cosy little Landour Bakehouse where you can stop for some cake, a croissant or a bacon roll as well as hot beverages. The Cluanie Inn also looks like quite a quaint little place to stay the night if you need anywhere on the way. They also have a restaurant.
A welcome dram
I don’t think anyone was surprised that there was rain the the air as we arrived on the Isle of Skye. It is Scotland in October after all. However I just find that it adds to the atmosphere and am quite happy to spend time outdoors anyways.
We stopped by the bronze Mountaineer Memorial Statue at the foot of the Cuillin Mountains for a welcome dram on the little bridge. We tried the Talisker Surge – a travel retail expression – which had that classic Talisker character but felt a bit milder and less peppery in it’s flavour.
The misty island sure gave cause for its nickname as you can see in the photos.
Lunch at The Oyster Shed
The long journey meant we arrived just in time for lunch and we were in for a treat. Right above Talisker Distillery you will find The Oyster Shed which sells various types of seafood. I opted for a 1/2 lobster with garlic butter and fries and we also got a little tasting of the rich Talisker Distillers Edition paired with fresh oysters. If you are doing this pairing, either pour a little it of whisky in your oysters and enjoy altogether, or eat your oyster first and then pour the whisky and use the shell as your drinking vessel.
Can you spot our little friend who decided to peak over the edge as Ewan was giving us an oyster demonstration?
Talisker Distillery is located right by the water. The Visitor Centre has recently been redone and the new design is more in line with the other Diageo distilleries that have got a new fresh look recently. We got to have a look around the distillery, a tasting of three expressions, a wee cocktail and also fill our own bottle of Talisker – which was quite a tasty one!
There’s different types of tours on offer at Talisker and I would definitely recommend booking in advance. When redoing the visitor centre there was a big focus on being able to up the capacity of tours as there’s such high demand. I was amazed to hear that tours are often sold out a month in advance, and in the summer sometimes three months in advance.
This is Diageo’s most visited distillery, although Blair Athol isn’t far behind. I knew it was popular – especially as the whisky is so popular in America where it is one of the best selling peated whiskies – but didn’t realise it was that popular as a destination. It’s incredible to hear that so many people are willing to visit remote parts of Scotland because of whisky tourism.
During the tour we also learned about Taliskers previous triple distillation, which is the reason for the set of three spirits stills in the still room. These were used up until the 1920’s and you can see them in the photos below.
Unfortunately it’s not part of the standard tour, but we got the chance to have a look up close at the worm tubs, which I’ve never done before. And I was also quite intrigued by Taliskers lyne arms that have an odd u-shape that encourages reflux. This in combination with the worm tubs, who instead encourages a heavier spirits is quite an interesting combination.
The tasting took part in one of the tasting rooms int the visitor centre. At the end of the standard distillery tour there’s usually a tasting of three whiskies, although these three whiskies were selected for our group so if you do the tour it’s a slightly different selection. It was Ewan Gunn who hosted our tasting and he is really good at involving stories when presenting whiskies, which makes it all feel very genuine and interesting.
Talisker 10 45.8%
Talisker 10 was my whisky of the year last year as I really like its character. It’s peppery with a fairly soft bonfire smoke and hints of fruits underneath that goes superbly with both haggis and cheese and is a brilliant go-to whisky. It was great to try this first up in this tasting to get a revisit of the classic.
Talisker 18 45.8%
I’ve wanted to try Talisker 18 for a really long time as my friends have spoken really well about it. And I can certainly understand the hype now, It’s a beautifully balanced whisky which feels like a refined 10yo, with less sharp spice and more round fruits.
Talisker Fill Your Own 9yo Recharred Wine Cask 59.8%
This whisky certainly had a fruit forward note straight away on both the nose and palate. The fruitiness really opened up with a few drops of water, although the spirit still felt quite powerful and bursting.
Fill your own bottle
To our surprise we also got to fill our own bottle of the 9yo recharged wine cask that we had just tried during the tasting. I was thrilled to get to take this home as it’s a brilliant whisky to share with friends. I always think it’s fun when the whisky on offer for a bottle-your-own is something that’s a bit more quirky than what you might find in the core range. I’m not actually sure if I’ve tried a red wine casked Talisker before…
Also, I really like these new labels that they got when they had a rebranding a while back.
The Mushroom Man
After leaving the distillery we continued toward our hotel for the evening: The Skeabost Hotel. But just before we reached our destination we stopped in front of a little tent off the side of the countryside road where a roaring fire was waiting. When we sat down we got a cup of mushroom tea – I know, I was a bit worried too – which had an interesting earthy flavour to it. Our host was an experienced forager who proceeded by offering us various treats that had been foraged whilst also telling us all about them. There was naturally gluten free kelp oat crackers with pickled chanterelles and wild garlic, Talisker-hydrated wood ear mushroom covered in chocolate as well as dried porcini mushroom. He had also made various cordials and liqueurs from various berries, herbs and plants, which we got to try. It was so much fun to learn more about how many different edible things that exist in nature.
However – if you want to try it yourself, make sure you know exactly what actually is edible. If it smells like almonds, it could just be cyanide and then you need to treat it in a particular way so it’s not dangerous. Just one of the wise words I will remember from that evening.
Dinner at Edinbane Lodge
A definite highlight of the day was the dinner that awaited at Edinbane Lodge. We got to meet chef Calum Montgomery, a Skye local, who has a real passion and care about serving food from the area. We got a fascinating dinner where each course just felt better than the other. I was so full and happy when I left the lodge. Along with the menu there was also a letter showing how far away and where all the produce was sourced. The food that had traveled the furthest was Isle of Mull Cheddar as Skye don’t have their own cheese makers. But most foods where from within 5 miles of the lodge. Calum even told us that his cousin on the island had sourced the mussels and he himself had fished out the XL scallops from the sea just earlier that afternoon. Always when I try food of this quality it’s such an amazing experience and I love how Calum and his team really show their love for the local flavours. The staff were also so brilliant, friendly and attentive.
I can not recommend Edinbane Lodge enough – you have to eat here when you visit Isle of Skye if you have the chance! Especially if you want a proper Taste of Skye.
They are open four days a week for lunch and dinner sittings so do make sure to plan ahead so you get a reservation. The restaurant sits in a historic building from 1543 that Calum and his dad spent 9 months renovating to what it is today. There’s also the possibility to stay here as they also offer accommodation in a limited selection of rooms.
We could of course not have a dinner without any drams so one of the courses were paired with Talisker 25 and as a special treat we also got a dram of the Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2022 for dessert.
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