Rare Ayrshire 1975, 31yo
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Well, I thought I was going to end this week with a Balvenie, an appropriate finish to this William Grant & Sons themed week. But yesterday evening I had the pleasure of sticking my nose into a few glasses with Michael Hopert, manager at Royal Mile Whiskies here in London, and had to share notes on this rare gem.
East Ayrshire was not a distillery, it is just a designation often given to the (limited) releases from this unique and now dismantled distillery. Ladyburn Distillery was a malt distillery experiment of sorts within the Girvan grain distillery.
Girvan was built in 1963 to provide grain whisky for Grant's increasingly popular blends. In 1966, the malt distillery Ladyburn was built on the same site, again, mainly to go into Grant's blends. The distillery was very compact and could be operated by one employee. The site was chosen for these distilleries because of a good water source, good transport via rail and sea(only a mile from the coast), and proximity to the bonding and blending halls of southern Scotland.
Only nine years later, Ladyburn was closed, making it the shortest-lived of the "malt-within-a-grain" distilleries. Ben Wyvis in Invergordon survived just slightly longer, 1965-1977, while Inverleven (1938-1991) and Lomond (1956-1985) malts were produced within Dumbarton grain distillery, Kinclaith (1957-1976) at Strathclyde; Glen Flagler and Killyloch (1965-1985) were distilled within Moffat Distillery. Due to the rarity of these malts, not necessarily their outstanding quality, some of these bottlings had been known to fetch a pretty penny. In this regard, I find this expression from Signatory to be quite reasonable.
I unsually don't mention colour or viscosity, but because I was tasting this blind, I noted the v e r y SLOW legs in an attempt to guess the age (for the record, I guessed 30, but I was told the abv% and that helped, too)
Bubblegum sweetness, synthetic fruits, watermelon Hubba Bubba. Bourbon cask characteristics, creaminess, cool whip, tropical; lime, strawberries, molasses based Trinidad rum.
Bright, honey and bread, bannock. Pine, spruce, hemlock, a coniferous forest floor. Really develops its flavours as they linger in the tingly finish.
No water needed to reduce the abv%, but it did bring out even sweeter, fruitier essences in the nose. For me, it was really enjoyable whisky, fresh, fruity, and well matured.
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