Barry Nisbet, our whisky guide, explains how Talisker is known for a signature, sea-salty salinity and how this release finishes its maturation in oak casks (once used to age bourbon) in sub-zero temperatures, which enhances the effects of the wood ageing. As I sip the golden, honey-hued liquid, a shot of heat radiates my chest as the group calls out its tasting notes: cinnamon, green apple, marzipan, toffee, toasted almond … with, for me, a gloriously persistent finish of spiced ginger, dried apricot and cracked black pepper. I quietly observe my reverence for drinking a liquid that began ageing in 1978, the year Christopher Reeve debuted as Superman. Is it rude to ask for a top-up, I think, or ruder not to? I stand and internalise until Nesbit, reading the room, pours again.
Outside, the mist had cleared to reveal the glacier’s enormity, a huge infinity of thick snow with a horizon swallowed in pearl-white clouds – a world to ourselves, soft and opaque, as if veiled in muslin. Back at the estate, a lowering sun turns the sky the colour of Champagne as we sip hot toddies by a campfire next to a fast-flowing river. But then a confession: the previous night, one of our group had stayed up, alone, and had seen the Northern Lights appear unexpectedly on the horizon. The atmosphere crackles with electric excitement as we all resolve to try to repeat her good fortune that evening.
I was the only one to keep the promise. After our last whisky of the night, I found myself outside. The wind stalls to nothing, with no sound except running water. I sit alone in the soft, heated waters of a geothermal pool, gaze at a blackening sky beyond the silhouette of mountain peaks, and wait.