Ailsa Bay is a single malt whisky, with sweetness measured by data

Creating alcoholic drinks involves a process that feels like it should be an exact science by now, but with until now it’s been a little hit and miss.

Ailsa Bay is a single-malt whisky from William Grant & Sons, an independent family-owned distiller. The product has just launched in Australia, after launching in the UK and Nordic countries back in 2016.

What makes it unique is the development of Ailsa Bay includes a ‘sweetness’ metric or data point that’s tracked and analysed to ensure you end up with the best, most consistent product.

The data-led distillation process was created by Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. Ailsa Bay is distilled with scientific precision, assessed by both phenol parts per million (PPPM) and sweet parts per million (SPPM). PPPM is a long-standing industry standard assessing a whisky’s “smokiness”; however the extensive use of data at every point in the distillation process at the state-of-the-art Girvan production facility has afforded a new level of transparency that allows an industry-first “sweetness” index – SPPM.

Ailsa Bay is scientifically distilled at 022 phenol parts per million (PPM) and 019 “sweet” parts per million (SPPM). For those playing at home, it’s also 48.9% alcohol, so it’s not for the faint of heart. 

“Ailsa Bay’s distillery is one of the most advanced in the world. It’s a playground for our inquisitive team of scientists, engineers and whisky makers that can question the status quo and push boundaries.

We have created a beautiful new sensory experience, distilling whisky in the most precise way possible through data science.

We operate in a phenomenally traditional industry. As a company we don’t want to change that, but instead harness all the enhancements technology can bring.

Ailsa Bay speaks to curious and progressive whisky enthusiasts, particularly those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who appreciate the way technology can challenge, augment and elevate traditional experiences.”

William Grant & Sons’ Malt Master, Brian Kinsman.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to taste it personally, but I’m ok with any product that cares so much about the recipe and quality control, that they measure it to the enth degree. 

Ailsa Bay is also the only Scotch whisky to undergo ‘micro-maturation’, where the new spirit is aged first in small bourbon casks for up to nine months. By ‘cask starting’ the malt rather than ‘cask finishing’, the whisky scientists can layer on a complex matrix of flavours, taking the liquid through rapid, intense maturation and incorporating varying levels of sweetness and smokiness.

“We like to think of it as oak at the heart, data at the head.”

Kinsman added.

Ailsa Bay is available in Australia through Vintage Cellars (and online), select First Choice stores (and online) only and Liquorland select stores in December. It’ll cost you $A$99.00 for a 700ml bottle.

For those who care about the story of the bottle (often an artwork in itself), Ailsa Bay’s packaging features dynamic artwork inspired from the creativity of science, reflecting the boundary-pushing technology at its Girvan distillery. The brand’s generative art is an abstract depiction of the data generated from the five stages of the most scientifically advanced whisky making process in the world.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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