Whisky Focus - Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke Review

Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke Review


16th November 2018
Review of the new sweet peated Lowlander Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke.

Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet SmokeAilsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke is a new whisky from William Grant & Sons, it follows and replaces the inaugural release of Ailsa Bay launched back in early 2016 and for this new 1.2 Sweet Smoke release the folks at William Grant has tweaked the recipe for the peated Lowlander and have launched it with a new look bottle design.

The Ailsa Bay distillery in Girvan on the west coast of South Ayrshire, Scotland went into production back in 2007, and as you know, as whisky matures it is constantly evolving, this has given Master Blender Brian Kinsman the ability to adjust the recipe for what goes into the Ailsa Bay single malt. Brian has been able to put together Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke using some of the older maturing stock to develop the flavour profile of the whisky further.

The result of Brian's tweaking of the recipe, they tell me, is a liquid that is more mellow and complex with a similarly unique balance of smoke and sweet. This change is expressed in a change of SPPM (the unique measure of Sweetness Parts Per Million) of 19 up from 11 and a change in PPPM (the measure of Phenol Parts Per Million in liquid form) to 22 up from 21.

Bottled at 48.9% ABV and with a RSP of 55 the new Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke will be available in Australia, Finland and the UK. Limited numbers of the original Ailsa Bay launch pack will still be available for a short period from specialist whisky shops so if you want a bottle don't hang around.


William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: A lovely sweet vanilla infused gentle smoke, just a wee hint of grassiness, gentle candied orange, a touch of honey.

Taste: A delicious smooth delivery of clean sweet peat and creamy vanilla toffee, a candied mix of pear and lemon, a little peppery oak spice isn't far behind.

Finish: The sweet vanilla and peat linger on a while before bowing out to leave a little citrus fruit and lovely mildly drying oak spice.

Comment: I loved the inaugural release from Ailsa Bay back in 2016 and this 1.2 is every bit as good, I would say that it has an extra maturity about it which has simply added to the pleasure, the oak is playing a bigger part than it did in the first release. The innovative Ailsa Bay distillery simply disregards traditional whisky region styles as we know them and has produced an outstanding peated Lowlander.

On a side note, after pouring myself 3 healthy drams of this new Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke to review it, I poured myself a dram of the new Aerstone Land Cask 10 Year Old which was also recently released by William Grant and without a doubt these two whiskies are very much related and all I can say is, if your budget allows grab yourself a bottle of the new Ailsa Bay but if your pockets aren't so deep I would say grab yourself a bottle of the Aerstone Land Cask, you will not be disappointed by either.

Perhaps what makes the Ailsa Bay 1.2 stand out above the Aerstone is its bottling strength of 48.9% ABV which certainly adds to its flavour and overall pleasure experience.

William Grant has dabbled in the past with peated whisky with their brands but I can now say without a doubt William Grant now produce a couple of quality peated whiskies in the form of Ailsa Bay and Aerstone, if this is your style of whisky, you will not be disappointed.

SMW Score 94/100

The new Aerstone whisky I mentioned has initially launched in Tesco supermarkets only but you will find the new Ailsa Bay Release 1.2 Sweet Smoke and while stocks last, the original Ailsa Bay release available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt
 

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