Skye, The heartland of Gaeldom, is a world of its own and at Talisker, the island's only distillery, even the money was unique. Distillery workers were once paid in specially minted coins with face values equaling the number of days worked. Employees exchanged the coins, which today can be seen in the Distillery Visitor Center, for the necessities of life, such as herring, oatmeal and flour. Talisker Distillery was founded in 1830 by the brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill of Eigg, sons of the doctor for the Small Isles. they chose a matchless setting of rare and unspoiled beauty on the shores of Loch Harport, within sight of the Cuillins. Then, as now, Talisker provided employment for local families but the establishment of the distillery was described by a former parish minister, and a total abstainer, as "one of the greatest curses, that in the ordinary course of Providence, could befall it or any other place". Kenneth MacAskill, who had managed the distillery and produced a high quality malt whisky, which found a ready local market, died in 1854, and when Hugh died in 1863 the distillery lease was transferred to a son in law, Donald MacLennan. Donald MacLennan was not a successful businessman and was declared bankrupt within a few months. The next leaseholder, J R W Anderson, also became bankrupt and was imprisoned for fraud in 1880 for accepting payment for whisky he falsely claimed to have placed in bond for his customers. The reputation of Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky as the Golden Spirit of Skye, however, remained undiminished and RL Stevenson celebrated that same year in a poem as among "the King o drinks…" The new owners of the distillery were men of substance, Alexander Grigor Allan, procurator fiscal for Morayshire and part owner of Glenlossie Distillery, and the Aberdeen wine and spirit merchant Roderick Kemp. Together they substantially rebuilt and refitted the distillery, and annual output soon averaged 40,000 gallons. Alexander Grigor Allan became sole proprietor when the partnership was dissolved in 1892. Following his death three years later his trustees assigned the lease to the Talisker Distillery Co LTD and in 1898, the company merged with the Dailuaine Distillery to form Dailuaine - Talisker Distilleries LTD.
Michael Jackson notes:
Colour Amber-red, bright. Nose Pungent, smoke-accented, rounded. Body Full, slightly syrupy. Palate Smoky, malty-sweet, with sourness and a very big pepperiness developing. Finish Very peppery, huge, long.