WITH Shirley using her favourite dram in the bun, it gives me the perfect opportunity to recommend a wee glass to go alongside. It would be churlish to go for anything other than Talisker and I’m sure that Shirley wouldn’t approve if I tried. Happily it is also one of my favourites. I have very fond memories of popping round to a friend’s house for a quick dram between courses at the local hotel during a stag weekend on Islay. The "quick dram" that was poured was a tumbler full of Talisker. We were late for dessert.

Talisker is a wonderful malt from Carbost on the shores of Loch Harport, Skye. The distillery was built in 1831, rebuilt in 1880 and again in 1960 following a devastating fire. Now owned by Diageo, a range of expressions is readily available in the specialists, the supermarkets and online.

You’ll normally see the 10-year-old (around £40), the 18-year-old (around £75) and an exceptional selection of "non-age statement" bottlings such as 57 Degrees North, Port Ruighe and Storm. The unusual thing about this range is that they are all good, and that doesn’t always happen with every distillery release. You sometimes get a cask finish that doesn’t suit the distillery expression, or a bottling at the wrong ABV (alcohol by volume) that can throw out the balance of the spirit. So, to have a whole range that ticks all the right boxes is not an everyday discovery.

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I’m sure this is one of the main reasons for the popularity of the malt. That, and the fact that the phenolics are perfectly poised; the peat and the smoke never over-powering the glass. The peat levels are measured in parts per million (ppm), and Talisker sits around 22 or 24. This is much lower than the likes of Ardbeg and Lagavulin and much, much lower than Bruichladdich’s Octomore. It’s more akin to Bowmore and Caol Ila, but with more pungency. A perfect pour.

A great thing about the recent interest in Scottish malt is the number of bars that have a staggering selection of bottles on their gantries. This means that you don’t have to part with £40 of your hard-earned cash to try a bottle that might not be to your taste. Instead, pop into the Pot Still on Hope Street or the Bon Accord on North Street in Glasgow and pay for a wee dram. Frank and Paul (respectively) will be delighted to help with your selection. And then, based on your findings you can buy a bottle of your favourite the next time you’re in your local spirit emporium.


Pete Stewart is Glasgow director of Inverarity One To One, 185a Bath Street, Glasgow www.inveraritymorton.com