Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
10/10
Food
9/10
Total
0%
February 25, 2024

Three Chimneys at Talisker, Skye, review - tasting menu in tranquil new restaurant at waterside distillery

This new pop up brings a range of dining options to Skye’s oldest distillery. Rosalind Erskine went along for a weekend lunch.

To make whisky in Scotland, and call it Scotch whisky, you need only three ingredients - water, malted barley and yeast. These need to be distilled then aged in oak barrels in Scotland for a minimum of three years and one day.

Simple ingredients but the resulting whiskies, made all over Scotland, are wildly different due to location, casks used, location of these in the distillery and age - amongst other things.

The use of local ingredients but with different, yet delicious results, can also be said of Skye’s restaurants - all of which use produce from the same island (and often the same fishermen, farms and businesses such as Isle of Skye sea salt) but each produce their own menu of dishes - creative expressions of the seasons on Skye - and many have reaped the rewards.

From Michelin mentions to stars and AA Rosettes, Skye is surely home to some of the most awarded recognised restaurants in Scotland.

One of these is the Three Chimneys, which has been flying the flag for using local and seasonal produce for over 40 years. It came to prominence under the ownership of Shirley and Eddie Spear, who bought the restaurant in the 1980s and put it on the foodie map in Scotland.

They sold to the Wee Hotel Company in 2019, with current head chef, Scott Davies (one of only three head chefs in the 40 year history) in place. Scott and his team continue to champion Skye land and sea, with a tasting kitchen table menu and a la carte menu in the restaurant.

Three Chimneys Talisker review
The Three Chimneys pop up at Talisker

More recently, they’ve taken on a pop up at the Talikser distillery, which is located about a 40 minute drive away in Carbost. The distillery, which was completely transformed in 2022 as part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism in Scotland, is now home to a brand new building overlooking Loch Harport.

Inside this space you’ll find a modern, tranquil space with Scandi style light wood furniture, long wooden tables and dark blue walls, but above all, a stunning view of the loch and, weather permitting, the hills and mountains beyond.

We visited over a weekend in February, a quiet time on Skye given how busy it can get in the summer, but the distillery was still quite bustling.

This all fell away when we got to our lunch booking in the stunning space. There’s three menu options, a seafood bar (£35), tacos (£15) and a The Journey tasting menu (£65), which comes with a drinks pairing (£35) for the non drivers.

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There’s also an excellent selection of mocktails (the old fashioned-esque chai blossom was delicious). We opted for the tasting menu, which has been designed by Davies to reflect the journey of whisky making, from the raw ingredients to the final product.

This is reflected in the names of the courses - humble beginnings, the new make spirit, the barrel, the age and infusions. The meal starts with humbling beginnings which consisted of Water - Dulse tea, Orbost herbs and seaweed; Yeast - stoneground Orkney beremeal sourdough, Skye, land and sea butters; and Barley - fermented risotto, malt, wheat grass and toasted yeast.

Three Chimneys Talisker review
The humble beginnings dish

These small courses were beautifully presented all together - with the dulse tea in a small cup next to a flat bowl of barley risotto, which was topped with the vibrant green wheat grass and a small loaf of piping hot sourdough, with the butters on the side.

These may be the food equivalent of the humble beginnings of whisky, but the taste was anything but. The dulse tea with its strands of silky seaweed was a salty and slight sweet combination while the nutty, soft yet crisp bread was an ideal accompaniment to the salty, umami miso and seaweed whipped butters.

The risotto was a stand out dish which had a rice pudding-like look and feel. The toasted yeast was a brilliant touch and tasted like how a distillery smells. This was a delicious mix of textures. This dish was paired with a Skye Gold bitter beer, the malty taste of which cut through any richness.

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Next up was the new make spirit - a seafood feast of roasted double dived scallops (a speciality of the Three Chimneys, where the scallops are hand dived from deep waters to shallower ones, and left for about five years), with langoustine tartare, caviar and chawanmushi.

This was served in a small dish, with the sliced scallop, caviar and roe served on top of a savoury custard - all topped with a roe cracker (the Three Chimneys prides itself on not wasting any parts of their ingredients).

A fresh dish with sweetness from the scallops, which mixed well with the tart taste of the roe and cracker. The texture of the custard may not be for everyone, but it’s an imaginative way to use all the parts of the scallop. This was paired with a moreish and fruity South African granache blanc.

After this dish we were on to wood - whisky barrel smoked venison, haggis, BBQ celeriac and whisky bone sauce. Two circle cuts of meat, wrapped in seaweed, were presented in a small, smoky chimney, alongside a circle of local haggis, topped with discs of celeriac, tiny cubes of venison salami and a quenelle of dark brown celeriac puree.

This was all topped with the salty whisky bone sauce. The flavours reflect the char of the casks that the whisky matures in, and all components - with their richness, salinity from the seaweed and smoky from the BBQ - all complimented each other well.

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This was paired with a light Portuguese red wine which has been aged in a mix of new and old oak, giving it a balanced and not overpowering taste.

Finally the dessert, titled the age - which consisted of single origin chocolate, Skye salt, toffee, dates, Sichuan pepper ice cream. This dish is based on the tasting notes of the Talisker 41 year old. This dish is made up of a chocolate dome, under which is the creamy and spicy ice cream, which appears after hot date and toffee sauce is poured on top.

Next to this is the single origin chocolate ganache topped with the salt and chunks of almond brittle. This is one for those with a sweet tooth, and is rich, but with a good mix of textures and not too much.  It was paired with a sweet dessert wine from American producer Andrew Quady. The meal is rounded off with a choice of tea or coffee and sweets - Talisker Storm whisky ganache, still-warm brown butter and black pepper madeleines and a sugar crusted whisky jelly.

This new addition to an old distillery is a breath of fresh air and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. The mix of fine dining and more ‘accessible’ options will appeal to all visitors no matter what the season. It’s due to run until April, but it’ll be hard to see how and why it won’t continue.

Tags:
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
Ambiance
10/10
Drinks
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Total
0%
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