About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


One of the upcoming releases in February is the Ailsa Bay Single Malt from Ailsa Distillery in Girvan in the Scottish lowlands.

Ailsa-what some of you might say?? Well, its the Wm. Grants & Sons (Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie, Girvan) new powerhouse of a distillery, neighbouring the Girvan Grain Distillery. It was built back in 2007 and was up until August 2013 equipped with 12 washbacks and 8 stills when another set of each was put into production, bring it up to 24 washbacks and 16 stills with a total capacity of 12.000.000 liters of spirit annually.

The distillery produces 4 types of spirit on its Balvenie-style stills. One light and fruity, one slightly more sulphury and 2 peated spirits... one medium peated and one heavily peated, around 50ppm.

The one in the review below will be the medium peated version on 21pp, around the same as Bowmore Distillery on Islay. This version was actually released in Denmark at the start of November 2015 and since its official release is coming up, it'll be a good time to review it here...

The Ailsa Bay Bottle, January 22nd 2016 © The Malt Desk 2016

Ailsa Bay No-age-statement, 48,9%, 21ppm, Distillery bottling

Colour is pale straw

A lovely sweetness at first, vanilla, grist, pot ale, some floral notes (fabric softener?) and a few feinty notes peeking through - nothing offensive though... and then there's the smokiness. Its always there and present from the first nosing - complimenting the sweetness quite well.

How old is this stuff? 6-7yo maybe? if so I'd say it has been in some very active casks... It has quite a decent arrival on pear notes, grass, custard, ginger, hints of white wine, lots of honey, fresh flowers from the garden and a very noticeable smoke (not peat), followed by a oaky/peppery rush. It reminds me of something in between an Arran and a Glenlivet with added smoke, so that isn't at all bad, right?

Now, regular readers will know I'm not a fan of NAS whisky unless its priced accordingly to whats in actually in the bottle - so is this one?? No, its too expensive if you ask me, at least here in Denmark where its just under £70

Is it good? Yes, its a nice fresh young whisky in a style that I could get used to... had it been at a better price.


Finally, big thanks to Adrian for the sample

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Quite often we see that the maturation of peated whisky in sherry casks turns out quite well, in fact there are already a few contemporary classics out there to prove that already - bottlings like Ardbeg 76 Manager's Choice, the Lagavulin 1985 21yo and the Talisker 1981 20yo. These are all island whiskies, which are often known for their peated style, but there's also distilleries on the Scottish Mainland that produces peated whisky - and one of them is Ardmore Distillery in Kennethmont in the East Highlands between Aberdeen and Huntly.

This particular expression is also matured in refill sherry hogsheads and is bottled by Gordon & Macphail, carrying the G&M Distillery label - a label expression also done by G&M with Glen Grant Distillery.

This whisky is a part of the Gordon & Macphail 'The Wood Makes the Whisky'-campaign... Here's my take on it...

Ardmore 1996 1996/2013 43%, refill sherry hogsheads, Gordon & Macphail

Colour is light amber

Picture by G&M
Very sweet, yet distinctly peaty. Not heavily Islay-style peat but a rather delicate, yet noticeable one delivered with intertwining vinous notes. Quite delicious, actually. There's apple and some pepper in here accompanied by some lovely sweet candied and nutty notes

Peat and a clear apple/pear theme and slightly burnt pastry. Quite some peated caramel notes and some warm banana over a bonfire. The finish reveals slight citrus notes and then heads towards thick toffee caramel notes and some spicy oak.

I'm most fond of whisky with an abv of 46+ because with those I can add the amount of water that fits my palate.... but one of the things that Gordon & Macphail seems to be quite good at is making sure that the flavour delivery in their whiskies almost never comes across thin. A big pad on the back to the folks at Gordon & Macphail for that... just remember to keep an age statement on your releases in the future too ;-)


Official sample provided by Gordon & Macphail