Lowland

Ailsa Bay 1.2 Sweet Smoke

Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke

Image courtesy of Master of Malt

What they say

Scientifically distilled at 022 parts “peat” and 019 parts “sweet”, then micro matured to a precise balance of oaky sweetness and smoky notes, this award winning new age single malt pushes the boundaries of flavour.

PPM:

THIS IS THE PRECISE MEASUREMENT OF THE ‘PHENOL’ CONTENT IN PARTS PER MILLION. THE HIGHER THE ‘PHENOL’ LEVELS THE MORE ‘PEATY’ THE WHISKY WILL TASTE. AILSA BAY CONTAINS 022 PPM, WHICH IS ASSESSED PRIOR TO BOTTLING GUARANTEEING A MORE ACCURATE MEASUREMENT.

SPPM:

AILSA BAY IS THE FIRST WHISKY TO HAVE AN ANALYSED MEASUREMENT OF SWEETNESS IDENTIFIED. THIS IS POSSIBLE THROUGH A REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS DEFINED BY MASTER BLENDER BRIAN KINSMAN. THE WHISKY IS DEFINED AS HAVING 019 SPPM WITHIN IT, WHICH GIVES IT THE PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN THE PEAT AND SWEETNESS.

Micro Maturation:

AILSA BAY IS ALSO THE ONLY SCOTCH WHISKY TO UNDERGO A PROCESS CALLED ‘MICRO MATURATION’. THE DISTILLERY’S NEW MAKE SPIRIT IS FIRST FILLED INTO HUDSON BABY BOURBON CASKS THAT ARE BETWEEN 25-100 LITRES IN SIZE, FOR SIX TO NINE MONTHS. THE RELATIVELY SMALL CASKS – TRADITIONAL AMERICAN OAK BARRELS CAN CONTAIN UPTO 200 LITRES OF SPIRIT – ENABLES INTENSE RAPID MATURATION. THE LIQUID IS THEN TRANSFERRED INTO VIRGIN, FIRST-FILL AND REFILL AMERICAN OAK CASKS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. THE PROCESS IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND WITHIN THE SCOTCH WHISKY INDUSTRY.

Official 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 VANILLA OAK, CANDIED ORANGE PEEL.
  • Taste: BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED PEAT AND RICH VANILLA OAKINESS, THIS SECOND BATCH HAS MAINTAINED THE SAME INTRIGUING FLAVOUR MEANDERING BETWEEN SMOKE, FRUIT AND CREAMY TOFFEE, THIS EXTRA MATURATION PERIOD HAS DEVELOPED DEEPER TOASTY OAK NOTES WITH EVERY SIP.
  • Finish: AN INTRIGUING BALANCE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND PEATY DRYNESS.

What I say

The second official release from William Grant & Sons Ailsa Bay distillery. Ailsa Bay 1.2 returns with an even sweeter and smokier expression. utilising their ‘Balvenie’ replica stills to produce some seriously peated Lowland single malt this scientifically driven expression is presented at 22ppm phenol and 19 ppm ‘sweet’

  • ABV 48.9%
  • Age NAS
  • Bottler William Grant & Sons
  • Bottling Official
  • Cask Hudson Whiskey & American Oak
  • Category Single malt scotch whisky
  • Cost £50
  • Origin Ailsa Bay distillery
  • Outturn 
  • Region Lowland
  • Released 2018
  • Vintage Undisclosed

My tasting notes

  • Appearance Rose gold (9/20), medium, slow, tears and medium-fine legs.
  • Nose Initially sweet and peat smoke – very Islay with distinct phenol, then becomes more sweet estery, ripe fruits, pear, orange, apricot, apple, cereal barley, grassy hay, lemon meringue pie, honey and barley sugars, on re-nosing I picked up suggestions of coal-tar soap and coal dust.
  • Taste Medium-light bodied, crystal malt, fibrous peat, sweet barley sugars, grassy and honey, creamy vanilla toffee, some baked fruits, pear, apple, orange, later some pepper and cinnamon spices.
  • Finish Long, light sweet candied orange peel, pepper, soft and dry peat smoke.
  • Overall I enjoyed this one much more than the first release. Remarkable similarity in my comments – Promises Islay but doesn’t have the weight/structure or malty backbone to deliver it. This expression has lots of sweet fruitiness to balance the dry peat smoke and is very reminiscent of many Islay malts – resulting in a very enjoyable dram – I wonder if WG&S are experimenting at making their own Islay style malt here in the absence of a distillery on the island?

Score 84/100

Available from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange

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Categories: Lowland

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