My husband's choice of trip on this holiday was the tasting tour at Talisker. We arrived in much kinder weather than we had on Monday and could appreciate the surroundings.
A few minutes after our arrival our tour guide collected us and one other couple for the tour. We're now approaching veteran stage of these tours having done several now but it is always interesting to hear about the slight differences.
At the start of the tour Lesley, our guide, explained where the barley was grown and malted before arriving at Talisker for grinding. At that point the machine sprung into action making the floor vibrate. Considering the amount of barley that passes through at each time (about nine tons) it's not a huge machine.
The next room is the mash room which is the smelliest room in the place. It's a smell I quite like as the large tubs wash the barley in hot water to remove the sugar.
Sadly we couldn't see the maturation tanks as the room they are kept in was having a new roof and was not accessible. Instead we went straight to the stills where the machine that splits the spirit was in full flow - the first time we'd seen one working.
Next was a look at some of the barrels sitting around while the whisky matures and picks up some of the notes of the barrel. Talisker use predominately bourbon casks with some sherry. The barrels on view had been there since 1979 and we were told that once the contents were bottled they would be the oldest Talisker to be sold.
Finally we headed for the tasting room. Not knowing what strength the whisky would be I had opted out of tasting but has happy to nose them. The options were the first cut, Talisker 10 yr, 18 yr, 25 yr, 57 North and Distillers Choice.
The first cut was the clear spirit that comes out of the stills before it goes into the barrel. It smelt very sweet but with hardly a hint of peat. Those who tasted it said it was surprisingly sweet. Next a few drops of water were added which brought the smokiness out.
These steps were repeated for the five whiskies which my husband enjoyed tasting. At the end I decided to smell the first cut again. It now smelt incredibly peaty but you wouldn't want to taste it!
Having finished the tour we headed back to Portree for a late lunch. In Portree harbour is a fab fish & chip shop. Well worth a visit as they do the best chips I've had in a long time.
The downside of visiting Skye at this time of year is that is gets dark early and so sightseeing finishes early.