Ailsa Bay, or ‘Whisky Hacked’ as it has been dubbed by the innovative team of distiller-scientists behind production of this mysteriously scientific malt, has largely gone under the radar in the world of whisky since spirit ran from its stills in 2007, although more and more people seem to be talking about it and indeed drinking it if the conversations I have with people at my GreatDrams whisky tastings are anything to go by.
The product itself, the first ever single malt to use data points to adapt and control the liquid to create the perfect balance between smoky and sweet, is described by the producers, William Grant & Sons as being:
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.
And, despite sounding over-engineered and like too much thought has been put into something that at its core is inherently simple, curiously it all makes sense and really does work, especially given that Ailsa Bay is one of the world’s most technologically advanced distilleries.
In case you’re wondering, the ‘micro maturation’ has taken place in small Hudson whiskey casks. Cheeky.
One of the things I love about Ailsa Bay is how it delivers a perfect example of how regionality in Scotch whisky has eroded and is rarely, if ever, relevant nowadays as this is a peated Lowland Scotch – that’s not the typical ‘Lowland style’, but it works and is a beautiful whisky too. more on that soon.
Ailsa Bay 1.2 Sweet Smoke is a deliciously balanced Single Malt Scotch made by scientists from one of the world’s most technologically advanced distilleries
Ailsa Bay Packaging
Even the packaging is impressive, although has been toned down from the original Ailsa Bay release where the stopper had a piece of granite embedded in a metal casing with a wide cork – can you imagine the cost of that to put into production?! Certainly awesome, I have a few of those stoppers on my desk in my office as I like to flick them across the desk as I’m thinking, but could not, in truth, see them lasting long.
Regardless, the new packaging adds even more science and detail into the mix, with lots of information portrayed elegantly on both the front and back of pack, all conjuring the thought of how much effort and science went into the creation of each release.
Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Single Malt Whisky Review
The whisky itself is superb; sweeter and peatier than the original Ailsa Bay release, but incredibly well balanced. This is not a peated single malt whisky that slaps you around the face like a Laphroaig or an Ardbeg, but it has a sweet, reassuring oomph to it.
Bottled at 48.9% ABV and without an age statement, the nose is meaty, smoky, earthy and has a feint but important note of fresh fleshy fruits including melons and a subtle lemon citrus.
The palate is powerful, don’t let me words about it not being as brutal as an Islay fool you, this is a gateway whisky into the peated single malt scotch whisky category, but it is one that delivers on everything a peated whisky should be; peaty, orange citrus notes, warm honey and soft vanilla notes present too with a long, spicy finish too. Wonderful.
And their long-term mission? Well, who can say it better than the production team behind it themselves…
We are a group of distiller scientists whose mission is to bring you the future of whisky using experimentation, technology, precision distilling, block-chain and methods we haven’t even imagined….yet.