Ailsa Bay 1.2: smoke meets sweetness

The little known distillery with big production volume announces its second single malt

Many whisky fans will give you a questioning look when you mention the name “Ailsa Bay”, probably due to the fact that the Lowland Distillery only has launched one single malt bottling yet. That was in 2016 and it was a single malt without age statement. Now a successor was announced: Ailsa Bay 1.2 Sweet Smoke.

Production giant Ailsa Bay

Ailsa Bay only has released one single malt yet but this doesn’t mean it’s a very young distillery. Ailsa Bay was already founded in 2007. Do they only produce small amounts of whisky? No, the production capacity of this so little known distillery is 12.000.000 liters annually. Glenfiddich does 13.700.000 liters in the same time which is not really much more. Balvenie produces significant less whisky with ist 7.000.000 (figures according to Malt Whisky Yearbook 2018).

24 washbacks and 16 pot stills work at Ailsa Bay and the most interesting fact is that five different stiles of malt are g produced here: a very light an sweet one, a heavy, sulfurous one and three versions of peated spirit. Experienced whisky fans can probably guess that single malt is only a small side business for Ailsa Bay: most whisky is produced for blends like Grant’s. Ailsa Bay Distillery is situated side by side with the Graindistillerie Girvan at the west coast of the Lowlands. Both belong to the company of William Grant & Sons, just like Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie.

A little more smoky and much sweeter

Ailsa Bay 1.2 Sweet Smoke is released without age statement as its predecessor and it also presents 48.9% ABV. But Master Blender Brian Kinsman worked on two criteria and changed PPPM from 21 to 22: it stands for “phenol parts per million” and describes the peatyness of a whisky. Different to other distilleries Ailsa Bay doesn’t measure the ppm in the malted barley but in the spirit. Laphroaig is classified with 40-45 ppm in the barley which would mean about 10 ppm in the spirit – fans of smoky whisky will be perfectly right at Ailsa Bay Single Malt Whisky. The second value given on the label of Ailsa Bay 1.2 is 19 SPPM. This means „sweetness parts per million“, a value created by Brian Kinsman for Ailsa Bay. It was 11 SPPM in 2016 so this new release seems to be much sweeter.

Maturation in small casks

It’s a perfect balance between smoke and sweetness that Brian Kinsman wants to create with the Ailsa Bay. Very scientific and comprehensible. For maturation he uses small casks that before hold Hudson Whiskey – a label that belongs to William Grant & Sons since 2010. The Tutthilltown Spirits Distillery that produces the Hudson Whiskey was acquired in 2017. The supply of casks for the Ailsa Bay Single Malt Whisky seems to be secure.

Ailsa Bay 1.2 Sweet Smoke is announced to appear on market in UK, Australia and Finland end of September.