Tag Archives: Ailsa Bay

Aerstone ‘Land Cask’ & ‘Sea Cask’ 10-year-old (Tesco Supermarket)

Bought: Tesco Supermarket, 3rd June 2019

Ratings for ‘Land Cask’:
81/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)
92/100 – Scotch Malt Whisky

Ratings for ‘Sea Cask’:
76.17/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)
89/100 – Scotch Malt Whisky

In 2018 Tesco Supermarket here in the UK decided to stock two ‘mystery’ single malts under the name of Aerstone. These are the ‘Land Cask’ and ‘Sea Cask’. They come with an age statement of 10 years and a volume of 40%. It’s not uncommon for supermarkets to have their own single malts but usually they’re labelled ‘ASDA’s Islay Single Malt’ or ‘Sainsbury’s Speyside Single Malt’. It’s unusually for a supermarket to register a trading name for a mystery whisky (where the source distillery isn’t clearly indicated). This is all very interesting but it was the price of £20 that caught my attention (reduced from £30). This made Aerstone the cheapest 10yo single malt on the market, even when the Aberlour 10yo is on offer. And considerably cheaper than the MacPhail’s 10yo mystery malt. Tesco, you have a winner!

The Aerstone duo aren’t really mystery malts in the traditional sense. Firstly it’s common knowledge that the source distillery is Girvan, owned by William Grant & Sons. Secondly a mystery malt typically comes from an established single malt distillery and Girvan is better known for producing grain whisky. Nevertheless since 2007 the Girvan complex has incorporated the Ailsa Bay distillery, which has been releasing single malt since 2016. With the Aerstone being 10 years old it’s possible that one or both of the cask types started life as Aisla Bay, which isn’t a bad thing.

It should come as no surprise that the Land Cask is doing better than the Sea Cask in reviews because peat and smoke make it more interesting. But both malts are considered to be easy going, straightforward sippers. Yes they contain E150 colourant and 40% seems quite tame these days but at £20 you can’t expect the earth to move. Both whiskies get excellent scores from William over on the Scotch Malt Whisky website and 81/100 on Whiskybase for the Land Cask is a pretty decent mark.

Overall I’d say that Tesco’s request to William Grant & Sons to give their customers two single malts that showcase the different profiles from different areas of maturation has been a success. And you can’t grumble at the price!

Here’s The Whisky Family with their thoughts on the Aerstone duo on Youtube (Oct 2018):

Ailsa Bay – 1st Release

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 26th February 2016

92.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.53/100 – Whiskybase (average from 40 member votes)

The Ailsa Bay distillery was built within the Girvan grain complex and opened by the Prince of Wales in 2009. I’m hoping it doesn’t follow the same fate as the Ladyburn distillery, which was also part of the Girvan business but only lasted about 10 years from the 1960s to early 1970s. In 2016 we see this first single malt release from Ailsa Bay at a very agreeable cask strength of 48.9%. Sounds good and looks good too in a very stylish and upright bottle.

When I first found Ailsa Bay on Whiskybase it scored 81.69 from 31 member votes but it’s climbed to 82.53 with 9 more ratings. One scorer, Glennie, scores this whisky 83/100 and summaries with “a nice start from Ailsa Bay. It’s flawless in a way but also without any real distinctive character. It can’t hide its youth, but that’s OK! Very quaffable and perhaps a good place to start for someone not used to peaty whiskies. And yes! I will characterise it as peaty, but not heavily peated by any mean. A few drops of water improve it. It’s too expensive IMHO. But a good one to try in a whisky club for instance.”

Scoring 92.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this new single malt as “brilliant”. The author, Jim Murray, says about the taste “brilliant mix of grist and soot, as the phenols get in early and hard. Predominately dry, exactly as the nose suggest, but just enough molasses to keep the balance honest. ” He summaries with “a resounding success of a first effort, though I’d like to see the finish offer a little more than it currently does. Early days, though.”

It will be interesting to see what future releases from Ailsa Bay will be like but it seems their initial opener is a decent one.

Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his review on You Tube (April 2016):

Ailsa Bay NAS 70cl