Talisker was started in 1843 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill from Eigg. Hugh was a tacksman (senior tenant farmer, who leased land to others) and acquired the lease of Talisker House and estate of Macleod of Macleod. Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, and takes its name from a farm some miles away nearer the village of Carbost.
After the brothers’ deaths the distillery was eventually acquired by a partnership between Grigor Allan, Procurator Fiscal of Morayshire, and Roderick Kemp, a wine and spirits merchant, and substantial sums of money were invested in rebuilding and refitting the distillery. By this time the whisky was gaining a reputation for itself. Robert Louis Stevenson mentioned it in a poem, ‘The Scotsman’s Return from Abroad’ in 1880,
In 1892, Kemp bought the Macallan Distillery on Speyside and Allan took over the entire ownership of Talisker which merged it with Dailuaine to form the Daluaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd. This company extended the premises at Talisker, built a pier, a tramway to link it to the distillery and houses to accomodate the employees and excise officer.
In 1925 through a previous merger with some of the founding memders of the ‘big five’ the distillery became fully owned by United Distillers. The distillery was partly rebuilt in 1960 after a fire and its own floor maltings were demolished in 1972. One of the original features of the distillery is the presence of traditional condensers.