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William Grant enters peated whisky market with Ailsa Bay launch

Published:  15 February, 2016

Family-owned distillers William Grant & Sons has launched its first peated whisky in the UK.

Ailsa Bay, which launched in Scandinavia last autumn, is part of the company's Ancient Reserves portfolio.

It is produced at the Ailsa Bay distillery which is part of William Grant's Girvan distillery facilities.

Opened in 2007, the Ailsa Bay distillery spends most of the year producing whisky for William Grant's range of blended whiskies.

But for two weeks of the year, production is dedicated to peated whisky, from which the new brand is made.

Ailsa Bay does not carry an age statement, and is a blend of peated whiskies aged in four different casks: refill oak, first-fill bourbon, new oak and ex-Baby Bourbon from the Hudson Distillery in New York State.

Peter Gordon, director at William Grant, said: "With Ailsa Bay, we wanted to create a very heavily peated whisky with all of the sweetness and smokiness we could muster, but also dial down on some of the medicinal notes that characterise some peated whiskies.

"Ailsa Bay is a testament to our whisky-making expertise and the skills of our master blender Brian Kinsman. We invest heavily in keeping the innovation conveyor belt going.

Alwynne Gwilt

"Hopefully, we can do this in a pioneering way that respects the traditions that our family has passed down through the generations."

The launch of Ailsa Bay is part of William Grant's strategic push on premium and rare whisky expressions in the UK.

The company has recently appointed whisky writer Alwynne Gwilt, best known for the award-winning Miss Whisky website, as whisky specialist and brand ambassador on the Ancient Reserves portfolio.

Apart from Ailsa Bay, the portfolio includes Girvan, Kininvie and the Rare Cask Reserves.

Jonathan Cornthwaite, senior brand manager at William Grant, said: "It is with great pleasure that we welcome Alwynne, with her wealth of unique experience.

"Alwynne is a great addition to the team and will help drive forward the William Grant & Sons UK Ancient Reserves portfolio."

Ailsa Bay's UK distribution is limited to 150 nine-litre cases, or 1,800 bottles, this year.

It has an abv of 48.9% and will retail at £55.