1st up in our Peat Unusual session was Ailsa Bay…
This Lowlands distillery is part of the Girvain complex, owned by William Grant & Sons. Most of the output makes its way to blends however there was a recognition that a single malt expression should also make it to market.
What did our cigar chomping gents think?
Ailsa Bay 48.9%
- Nose – Sweet and peat, raw bacon, honey cured ham, black pepper then cinnamon spice, smoked paprika, very sweet
- Palate – Nice light spice, dry oaky candy, acrid smoke
- Finish – Long bitter then turns sweet…. long
- Water? Sweet toffee, butterscotch, no bacon and almost syrupy, even more sweet on the palate, still a bitter long finish
We set it aside to revisit… much more enjoyable however still more on the sweet side, not much variety, could even be described as ‘linear’ with a wintry quality.
Overall we thought not a bad start but not one we would run out to grab another bottle immediately.
So what do we know?
Alisa Bay is purported to find balance between sweet and peat… which they strictly adhere to 21 PPM for the peat then also measure the ‘sweet’ side too with their SPPM – at a level of 11 SPPM. They also use a ‘micro maturation’ process with the new make spirit filled into Hudson Baby Bourbon casks (25-100 Litres vs standard barrels with unto 200 Litres) for 6-9 months for an ‘intense rapid maturation’ then transferred to a mix of virgin and 1st fill American oak casks.
And Alisa Bay’s tasting notes?
- Nose: FRESH WOOD SMOKE WITH NOTES OF SMOULDERING DAMP HEATHER AND AN EXTINGUISHED BONFIRE. FOLLOWING THE SMOKE IS A WAVE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND HOT BUTTERED TOAST WITH AN INTRIGUING HINT OF CARAMELISED APPLE.
- Taste: AN IMMEDIATE PUNCH OF PEAT IS QUICKLY BALANCED BY A BURST OF VANILLA OAKINESS. THE FLAVOUR MEANDERS BETWEEN SMOKE, FRUIT, CREAMY TOFFEE AND BACK AGAIN. WITH EVERY SIP THE COMPLEXITY OF THE WHISKY DEEPENS AS LAYER UPON LAYER OF FLAVOUR IS REVEALED.
- Finish: AN INTRIGUING BALANCE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND PEATY DRYNESS.
Would we agree? Mostly… however complex? Not what we found.
While I can’t definitively confirm, I suspect this particular bottle made its way to us via The Whisky Exchange where it can be purchased for approx £55.55.
Our “peat unusual” whiskies….
- Ledaig “Very Cloudy” Vintage 2008 40% (Signatory)
- Loch Lomond Peated 46%
- BenRiach 25 year “Authenticus” Peated 46%
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