This is the first edition of William Grant & Sons’s lowland distillery used largely for supporting their blends. The distillery is designed to produce multiple styles of malt, including a Balvenie-style malt (the stills are shaped exactly like the stills at Balvenie). This peated malt that not only lists the PPPM (parts per million of phenols) but also the SPPM, which refers to the sweet parts per million–this one comes in at 21 and 11, respectively. The whisky also underwent “micro-maturation,” which means it was matured in Hudson Whiskey barrels (the 40 liter ones, if I’m not mistaken).
On the nose, we got that sweetness, but not as much of that micro-maturation as we’d thought we might. Actually, it smelled more like it was micro-matured in elven barrels and looked after by hobbits. The rose petal evident right away soon gives way to notes of oatmeal cookie with lots of raisins and currants (no doubt the result of crumbs the hobbits dropped during their between-elevenses-and-luncheon snack). Then came a mondo lemon note, but it isn’t just any lemon: it’s one the size of your head, and it’s jammed full of charcoal. It’s not unlike a lemon pound cake cooked on a grill. Or a pound of (grilled) pancakes drenched in lemon eiswein syrup. Inhale deeply, and you’re drawn into a cone of lemony, peaty sweetness. At this point, John made some odd reference to Roman Polanski, which sparked an immediate motion to go to a committee of the whole, which resulted in John’s immediate dismissal. #MeToo.
The mouth is wonderfully–dare I say dangerously–drinkable. The sweetness comes on like gangbusters, bursting through the beautiful balance of the peat like Kool-Aid Man coming through a brick wall. Wow. The mouth is tasty, complex, and balanced. It’s syrup from IHOW, the international house of whisky, and it’s poured over those amazing lemon shortbreads they sell on the boat to Islay. John also noted that he got shiitake browning in oleo, but we’d already gone into full shunning mode at that point (but we could still hear him yelling his notes through the locked double doors).
The finish is that raccoon who climbed the building in Minnesota: mesmerizing, enthralling, and oddly emotionally charged. Then we made the mistake of adding water. The intensity of the dram was certainly unlocked, and it became wonderfully unctuous as a result. But we got strange notes after that: a much beloved hamster after a gong bath [honestly, I have no idea what that means]; a high, weird menthol note, and eucalyptus on acid.
[Bill and I, together: Shut up!]
Despite finding the finish totally enchanting beforehand, after adding water, it’s still the best Yankee Candle you’ve ever had. That’s high or faint praise, depending on your sensibilities, but then again, that kind of note is at the very heart of everything we do here at The Malt Impostor.
On the scale of heroic animal feats–
The Ailsa Bay Edition 1.1 is a pair of beluga whales saving a diver–Perhaps not the most amazing of all such rescues, but who wouldn’t love to be able to tell that story to their grandkids?
–Our thanks to William Grant & Sons for the sample!