Alisa Bay

Ailsa Bay Distillery

  • Scotland
Phone Number
  • Ladywell Ave, Girvan KA26 9PF, United Kingdom

Ailsa Bay Distillery

History of Ailsa Bay Distillery

Establishment and Purpose

Ailsa Bay Distillery, situated in Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland, was established in 2007 by William Grant & Sons. The primary intent behind its inception was to alleviate the increasing demand faced by other single malt distilleries owned by the company, such as Balvenie and Glenfiddich. The distillery’s location is noteworthy, being on the same site as the Girvan single grain and Hendrick’s gin distilleries, including structures from the old Ladyburn distillery.

Distinctive Production Techniques

Ailsa Bay is renowned for its unique production methods. One of the key features is the distillery’s capacity to produce a variety of spirit types. This versatility is achieved through various production techniques such as altering the peating level of the barley, varying the fermentation time (usually between 60-72 hours), and utilizing different stills. Notably, two of the wash stills and two of the spirit stills use stainless steel condensers, enabling the production of a more ‘sulphury’ spirit.

The distillery started with four sets of stills in 2008, which expanded to sixteen in 2013, all housed in a large still room. The facility includes two 12,5 tonne mash tuns and 24 stainless steel washbacks. Ailsa Bay’s production process also incorporates a unique micro-maturation technique. The new make spirit initially matures in small barrels from the Hudson distillery in America for six to nine months, then transfers to traditional-sized casks for further maturation.

Distillery Output and Spirit Characteristics

The distillery’s annual production capacity is about 12 million litres, predominantly serving William Grant & Sons’ blending purposes for brands like Grant’s and Monkey Shoulder. Ailsa Bay produces five types of single malt, ranging from light and delicate to heavy and sulphuric styles, including three peated variants.

Ailsa Bay’s single malt releases are distinct from the typical Lowland style, showcasing a sweet, peaty, and smoky profile. The spirit is primarily matured in American oak casks sourced from the bourbon whiskey industry, imparting notes of vanilla, honey, and white chocolate. These characteristics amplify the peat smoke sweetness, adding a soft ashy quality with hints of white pepper.

Evolution and Current Status

The first single malt under the Ailsa Bay name was released in 2016. This release stood out in Lowland for its sweet and peaty nature. Since then, the distillery has continued to provide unique twists to the classic Lowland style.

Unique Distillation Process of Alisa Bay Distillery

Micro Maturation Process

Ailsa Bay is the only Scotch whisky to undergo ‘micro maturation’. The distillery’s new make spirit is initially filled into Hudson Baby Bourbon casks, which are significantly smaller than traditional casks, for six to nine months.

This stage of the maturation process in smaller casks enables an intense and rapid development of flavors. After this period, the liquid is transferred into virgin, first-fill, and refill American oak casks for several years. This innovative approach is a first in the Scotch whisky industry​​.

Precise Flavor Measurement

Ailsa Bay is also unique for its scientific approach to flavor balance. Their whisky is scientifically distilled at 022 parts ‘peat’ and 019 parts ‘sweet’. This precise measurement, particularly the ‘sweetness’ part, is revolutionary.

Ailsa Bay is the first whisky to have an analyzed measurement of sweetness identified, a process defined by Master Blender Brian Kinsman. This scientific approach to balancing the peaty and sweet elements in their whisky is unusual and distinctive in the industry​​.

Technological Innovation

In March 2019, Ailsa Bay released a new brand of scotch whisky protected with blockchain technology. This use of blockchain was aimed at preventing counterfeiting, showcasing Ailsa Bay’s commitment to innovation not just in whisky production but also in product integrity and consumer trust.

Ailsa Bay Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Ailsa Bay Distillery, located next to the Girvan distillery in Scotland, offers a unique tour experience with some limitations. Unfortunately, the distillery is not open to the public for regular tours, so you cannot simply visit without prior arrangements.

What To Do Nearby Ailsa Bay Distillery

Ailsa Craig: Visible from Girvan, Ailsa Craig is a notable island known for its granite, used in making curling stones. It’s an intriguing spot for nature lovers and those interested in geology. The island’s proximity to Girvan makes it a significant local landmark.

Lochlea Farm Distillery: Although not open to the public for regular tours, this small farm distillery is noteworthy for its craft whisky. While they may occasionally welcome small groups, it’s best to contact them in advance to inquire about any potential visit opportunities.

Bladnoch Distillery: This distillery offers a comprehensive tour and tasting experience, showcasing its 200-year history and modern whisky production. The visitor centre, restaurant, and variety of whiskies available for tasting make it an appealing stop for whisky enthusiasts. It’s located in Wigtown, a village known as the Scottish capital of books, adding a cultural aspect to your visit.

Stranraer: A picturesque town along the coast, Stranraer is ideal for a leisurely visit. Its proximity to Cairnryan, where ferries depart for Northern Ireland, adds a unique element to the area.

Portpatrick: This coastal village on the Rhinns of Galloway peninsula is notable for its stunning views and cosy accommodations. The Waterfront Hotel in Portpatrick is a recommended place to stay, offering spectacular sea views and delicious meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Ailsa Bay Distillery?

Tartans & Tweeds: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1465 712064. Their address is 23-25 Dalrymple St, Girvan KA26 9EU, United Kingdom.

China Moon Restaurant & Takeaway: This restaurant has a rating of 4.1 stars. You can contact them at +44 1465 710788. It’s located at 56 Montgomerie St, Girvan KA26 9HE, United Kingdom.

AUSTINS RESTAURANTS LTD: With a rating of 4.7 stars, this restaurant can be contacted at +44 1465 714668. Their address is 57 Knockcushan St, Girvan KA26 9AG, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Ailsa Bay Distillery?

The Southfield Hotel: It has a rating of 4.6 stars. You can contact them on their phone at +44 1465 714222 for reservations. Their address is 18 The Avenue, Girvan KA26 9DS, United Kingdom.

Queens Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.4 stars. You can contact them at +44 1465 713670. It’s at 1 Montgomerie St, Girvan KA26 9HE, United Kingdom.

Woodland Bay Hotel: With a rating of 4.6 stars, this hotel can be contacted at +44 1465 710700. Their address is 2 miles south of Girvan, Girvan KA26 0HP, United Kingdom.