William Grant & Sons has been distilling for five generations since 1887 and produce flagship malts, Glenfiddich and Balvenie. In 2007, they opened the Ailsa Bay distillery – an automated new age distillery, undoubtedly one of the most advanced in Scotland. From here, the science behind whisky creation takes front seat over the age-old art form, and consequently became the birthplace of Ailsa Bay whisky.
“Ailsa Bay’s distillery is one of the most advanced in the world and is a playground for our inquisitive team of scientists, engineers and whisky makers questioning the status quo and pushing boundaries,” said William Grant & Sons’ Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. “We have created a beautiful new sensory experience in whisky through experimentation with data science, distilling whisky in the most precise way possible.”
Ailsa Bay has an intriguing style that defies the convention of age statements and the typical light and grassy characteristics of a lowlands single malt. On the nose is a light yet complex wood smoke that finishes with candied orange peel and a pronounced oak sweetness. The same oak sweetness with layers of fruit, creamy toffee and smokiness follow through on taste.
Data-driven processes and innovation allow a scientific precision in balancing the smokiness with the sweetness. In fact, the phenol concentration (which provides the wood smoke palate) is measured to precise parts per million, whilst a new index, sweet parts per million is measured using a proprietary method and precisely calibrated. This single malt is the first in the world to introduce this index. Additionally, the maturation process is unique – the new whisky is “micro-matured” – aged in smaller bourbon barrels for up to nine months, that intensify the maturation and the development of the spectrum of flavours.
Ailsa Bay has been a success in the UK and the Nordics since its initial launch in 2016, and is now available in Australia at $99 per 700mL bottle.