Talisker and Billion Oyster Project work to restore New York Harbor

To the northwest of Scotland lie the Inner Hebrides, an island archipelago separating Scotland from the Atlantic Ocean. In 1830, the founders of Talisker Scotch, the MacAskill brothers, sailed north from the small Isle of Eigg in the Hebrides to its largest landmass, the Isle of Skye. Their gaze was trained on an arm of the Atlantic, Loch Harport, on the shores of which they were going to found the Talisker distillery. Nearly 200 years later, the single malt Scotch whiskey maker keeps that elemental savagery alive not only in its minds, but also as a protector of the salty waters it sits on.

Talisker’s history intertwines with the infamous Oyster Shed, a fresh seafood restaurant and market that shares the rugged coastline with the distillery, pairing smoky spirits with the earthy bivalves that populate its shores. In honor of the waters that lift Talisker, the company launched its “One For The Sea” project in July. The global initiative “encourages consumers to reconnect, preserve and protect our oceans through donations and sustainable practices.” This translates into a campaign for seashells across the pond with New York City’s nonprofit Billion Oyster Project (BOP).

The Diageo team

“We are very grateful for Talisker’s continued support over the past two years and look forward to another impactful year of partnering with them,” BOP chief executive Pete Malinowski said in a statement. “Their continued commitment to our shell collecting program has helped us restore more oyster reefs and work towards a cleaner New York Harbor for all.”

New York Harbor opens at the mouth of the Hudson River and empties into New York Bay near the tidal estuary of the East River before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. One of the biggest and best natural harbors in the world, it took Western settlers less than 100 years to wipe out its oyster population. To bring back healthy habitat, the BOP has pledged to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035.

Talisker is the primary sponsor of the Shell Collection Program, a cornerstone of the nonprofit’s work to divert shells used by New York restaurants from landfills to reuse for oyster reef restoration. In 2022 alone, BOP cited a collection of more than 300,000 pounds of oyster shells from more than 50 New York restaurants, productively recycling old detritus as critical reef environments. As sea levels rise during climate change, intentionally built ecosystems are integral to sustaining ecosystems. These massive marine communities can create homes for underwater life, clean up city waterways, and prevent coastal erosion.

Talisker is also partnering with Emmy Award-winning actor and conservationist Matthew Rhys to amplify BOP initiatives and reinforce the brand’s ongoing commitment to protecting local and global waters.

“We all benefit from healthy oceans, and as a Brooklyn resident, I have seen firsthand the impact BOP has on cleaning up, restoring and protecting local waterways,” Rhys said in a statement.

New Yorkers are also invited to the party through BOP’s passport program, which encourages diners to sample Talisker and oysters at New York restaurants. Through Labor Day, Talisker will donate an additional $10 to the BOP for every Instagram shoutout @talisker and #oneforthesea and #donation tag in posts or stories (max $25,000). This will allow the BOP to collect and recycle an additional 5 pounds of used oyster shells for every eligible social post from local New York restaurants to local waters.

A lucky poster over 21 will win a trip plus one to the Hamptons by adding the hashtag #sweepstakes.

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