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Field Journal

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge Photo: Ben Duffy

The Wilderness Bar Startline Event
Words and Recipe: Kieran Creevy // Photography Lisa Paarvio & Ben Duffy

Sponsored by Talisker Whisky

Black water slowly morphs to dark cobalt then lighter blue as we finish loading the fishing boat with our supplies. Motoring gently out of the harbour in San Sebastián de La Gomera, we pass again the 35 rowing boats, silently waiting for their crews.

Out of the harbour, salt spray and thick sweet coffee jolt us out of our predawn sleepiness. We lean our backs against the hull, brace against the swell, and soak up the heat. Bird calls break our reverie. We search the cliff faces to our right, hoping to catch a glimpse of tiny forms diving for fish.

Rounding our first headland, we come across a small cove bursting with shades of green, sunburst yellow, and rose – a stark contrast to the muted hues of the surrounding landscape. All too soon this unexpected gem is hidden once more behind another fold in the cliffs, but the next headland falls away to reveal another spectacle.

On this deserted rocky beach we find a temporary and beautiful bar and diner, cobbled together from locally scavenged materials, its wood and stone bleached pale from years of tropical sun. Within days, this bar and wild food experience will be removed from the landscape, leaving nothing behind but memories.

For now, we have the interesting challenge of landing on the shore. Timing our moves to the swell of the waves, we step lightly onto a floating pontoon that rises and falls. A few steps later we’re greeted with a signature cocktail, created from wild tropical edibles and Talisker Whisky. Notes of salt, citrus, and spice give the drink an unexpected depth. The salt taste marries perfectly with fresh oyster served unadorned. Simple, rustic, and elegant.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
Photos: Ben Duffy (1,2,3) // Lisa Paarvio (4)

A shift in the wind carries sounds of revelry, and we soon move on to find a second bar, complete with seating area and a fire table thronged with a medley of people – athletes and adventurers, writers and sailors. All on this remote beach to enjoy tales of challenge and exploration. We’re here to celebrate and toast the start of a daunting journey: the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, in which more than 100 brave souls will soon drop below our horizon, heading west in search of a finishing line more than 5,000km away in Antigua.

For now, it’s time to sample various iterations of Talisker Whisky as an integral element in cocktails and wild cooking. Replete and relaxed, we’re flooded with light and laughter. Even at home, good food, drink, and company can bring us together; the same experience enjoyed in the wild adds a deeper element, connecting us to shared ancestral memories. Communities joined as one, sharing adventures, hopes and fears, risk and reward. And most importantly pulling together as a team as we venture towards the horizon and into the unknown.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
Photos: Lisa Paarvio

Slow-cooked goat tacos with orange, lime, chilli and Talisker whisky

Ingredients (Serves 2)
200g diced goat shoulder, or for a quicker dish use lamb loin
50ml Talisker 10 Whisky
Juice and zest 3 oranges
Juice and zest 2 limes
1tsp coriander seed
Salt and pepper
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1tsp dried seaweed
1 spring onion, sliced
Blue corn tortillas

To Serve
Black lava salt – regular sea salt will suffice
A few rings of chilli
Fresh coriander leaf, chopped


Season the goat with salt and pepper.
Bring a saucepan to a medium heat. Add the lime and orange juice, Talisker Whisky, half the zest, coriander seed, seaweed, chilli, and spring onion.
Bring to a simmer, add the goat, and cook slowly for 30 minutes. Taste and season if necessary.
Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat/juice mix has turned sticky.
Shred the meat with forks.
Toast the corn tortillas over an open flame or in a dry pan if you prefer.

To serve, spoon the goat meat onto two tacos at a time – so the tacos don’t get soggy.
Season with a little coriander leaf, chilli, zest, and black lava salt.
Eat and repeat.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
Photos: Lisa Paarvio

Talisker Storm infused roast pineapple with Piloncillo, lime and chilli.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Pineapple element
1 ripe pineapple
50ml Talisker Storm Whisky
2 tbsp piloncillo or other raw cane sugar
1/2- 1 fresh chili, deseeded, deveined and diced finely.
2 limes

Ice cream (simplified version)
1 500ml tub vanilla ice cream
3-4 tbsp dulce de leche

Toasted pumpkin seeds


NB: Notes for cooking with an open fire below.

Advanced preparation
Mix a tub of vanilla ice cream and the dulce de leche together, swirling until you have a mixed ripple.
Store the ice cream in the freezer overnight and transport in an insulated container to your outdoor dining experience.

On the day
Let the coals/wood in the firebowl cool to moderate – no big flames.
Place the whole pineapple (skin on) into the firebowl.
Turn a few times until the entire skin is blackened.
Leave in the fire for 20-30 minutes.
Remove, allow to cool slightly then skin and chop into chunks.

Place a dry fry pan on the Fire Table and bring to medium/high heat.
Juice the limes, add the Talisker Storm Whisky and pineapple chunks.
Allow the whisky to infuse the pineapple.
Grate the cane sugar over the mix and sprinkle the chilli on top.
Mix together and cook until sticky.
Serve with the dulce de leche ripple and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Making a fire on the beach:

For the full experience, try to cook this dish in a fire bowl or on a Fire Table
If you’re making an open fire in the outdoors you need to follow a few very important rules.

1: You either need permission to have an open fire or have checked with local regulations.
2: You only need a small fire to cook this dish, any larger and you’re just using extra fuel for no immediate gain and you may exhaust usable wood in that area.
3: If you’re cooking over an open fire make sure the wood you’re using isn’t going to impart an unpleasant taste to your food. For preference therefore I’d recommend Apple, Ash, Beech, Birch, Crabapple, Chestnut and Oak.

If you’re cooking over an open fire, moderate the heat by allowing the wood to cool to coals or by height/distance – the higher/further you are above/away from the fire the lower the heat. Ensure the food is cooked properly.

Most importantly, leave no trace.

For more information on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge visit and follow the race action @atlanticcampaigns

Written by Kieran Creevy // Photography by Lisa Paarvio






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