Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ailsa Bay: Review

Hey everyone,

Yes, I am a marketing sucker for buying a bottle of this. Everything about this screamed gimmick. The heavy metal and granite stopper, the thick bottomed bottle, all the BS about micro-maturation, spirit ppm and sppm. All trying to hook me. And it succeeded.
To be fair it does sound interesting, and it turns out it is.

Blending different distillates from different peating levels. 21ppm in spirit, so about 36-38ppm in the malt. 11sppm, sweet parts per million, what does that mean? No idea. It pretty meaningless seeing as we've got nothing to compare it against.

Matured partly in Hudson baby Bourbon barrels (very small). The distillery only started in 2007, so the max age is 8 years.
But mainly the high peating level and abv drew me to this, and I prayed to the whisky gods that it wasn't just a gimmick.

Aisla Bay 48.9%
Colour: Gold
Body: Medium
Nose: Different. Its neither bonfire nor medicinal peat, but it is somewhat mineral. Its a sweet peat, but no Sherry flavours. Candy floss, sweet shop, candy cane, malt, olive oil, red liquorice, a little vanilla, dirty grapefruit, some lime, chimney soot, slate, sour under ripe fruit.
Water: More olive oil, more green under ripe fruit, apple, lime. More minerality too with some chalk and limestone. Loses some smoke, but gains sootiness.
Taste: Mouth coating, rich and sweet. Soft arrival with under ripe mango and some acidic green apple, developing more sour, building peat, grapefruit, building lime and lemon, then more oily malt.
Water: Softer and smoother, then more soot, more lemon then goes more dry with lots of wet chalk and limestone. Quite white wine-esque. Less complex but more balance.
Finish: Medium length. Heavy peat kicking in with oily malt and then drying. Quite drying and a little longer with water.

It's not really that peaty. I would compare it to Bowmore in terms of ppm and given blind I'd probably have guessed an IB Bourbon Bowmore. It's probably down to the cut points. I think they've cut the feints early to tone down the phenols and medicinal notes.

Reminds me of a Japanese whisky in some ways. It's definitely been very carefully designed, so there are very little flaws, but it loses some exciting character. I tend to find a similar thing with Japanese whiskies.


I actually really like the mineral notes that come out, especially with the sour citrus but it could do with a few more years ageing I think. Interesting to try but I probably wouldn't buy another bottle.

Review #73

Network Average: 78.1
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

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