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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

July 18, 2014


A first, tasting Ailsa Bay.
Unless this is not Ailsa Bay.

Don’t we all love mysteries? Well the excellent German bottlers Malts of Scotland are full of mysteries these days, as several among their new bottlings are carrying fantasy names, usually places or monuments that are located not too far from the distilleries. That means that while we do not have the distilleries’ names, we may sometimes find the key to the riddle, so to speak. All you need is Google Maps and/or a bit of logic. This one should make for a great example…

Images of Ayrshire ‘Dalrymple Bridge’ (68.3%, Malts of Scotland, single cask Scotch, 328 bottles, 2014)

Images of Ayrshire ‘Dalrymple Bridge’ (68.3%, Malts of Scotland, single cask Scotch, 328 bottles, 2014) Four stars and a half The name ‘Ayrshire’ or ‘Rare Ayrshire’ is often used for undisclosed Ladyburn. Now 68.3% vol. should mean that the whisky’s very young, so it just couldn’t be Ladyburn, which stopped working in 1975. Or they would have used ages and/or vintages. But ‘Dalrymple’ rings a bell… it’s the trading name of teaspooned Ailsa Bay, isn’t it? And this is not labelled as a single malt, so it could well be blended malt indeed (on the papers). And the owners William Grant do not let other bottlers use their distillery names indeed… And Ailsa Bay is, indeed, located in Ayrshire. So, this just cannot not be Ailsa Bay, Watson! And it does not smell of grain, so it couldn’t be Girvan. A real first for me, I’ve never tasted Ailsa Bay before.

Colour: deep gold. Very active wood, it seems. Nose: it’s obviously young, but Ailsa Bay cannot be old as they started distilling in 2007. It’s very powerful, but I do get a rather lovely mix of raisins, sweet wine and brandy, plus orange cake and, say millionaire shortbread. Right, Mars bar. You have to be careful at this strength… With water: blimey, you really need to add a lot of water to smooth it up. But then it becomes even more beautiful, raisiny, Sauternes-like, with also a rather Indian kind of spice mix. Sweet curry, sweet mustard. Great nose, maybe thanks to a great cask. Mouth (neat): how powerful! And yet you can feel a bourbony sweetness, some honey, a biting oak and large bag of raisins. Cough, cough… Burns your throat. With water: works! Litres of orange blossom water, also Seville oranges, sweet curry, raisins again and again, sweet wine, a little mint and liquorice, pepper… All very, very good. Finish: long, clean, on more or less the same notes. Good clean aftertaste, on speculoos and oranges, I’d say. Comments: my only disappointment comes from the fact that the cask was great – and greatly active. That means that this baby’s anything but distillate-driven, so I just couldn’t tell you much about Ailsa Bay’s original character, even if it seems that they’re actually producing various styles of malt whisky over there. But what a great Lowlander! SGP:651 - 88 points.

No sparring-partner today, I could not find another Ailsa Bay – no wonder – and I haven’t got any sample of Roseisle in my library either!







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