Yet another bit of absolute malt insanity. These are the sorts of whiskies I live for.
If you know your barley juice quite well, you may know that Ayrshire is another name for the infamous Lowlander, Ladyburn. With less than ten years production, Ladyburn is one of the scarcest malts in the whiskysphere. It’s also another of those uber-singular whiskies that was produced at a distillery within a distillery. There were a few of these anomalous set-ups, of course, but we’ll save the ramblings on the others for future days, lest we drag on too long here, only to spoil the narrative later. Ladyburn was produced within the Girvan distillery between 1966 and 1975. So, as you can tell by the photo below (or just by reading the review title), this particular ex-bourbon barrel was filled in the last year of the distillery’s existence. It was one of (at least) a couple of sister casks released by Signatory in 2007. Cool stuff, aye?
Enough preamble, though. Let’s jump into some tasting notes. That’s why we’re here, after all.
This 31 year old Ayrshire is a bit of a mishmash. It hits some very cool high notes, but they’re kind of outliers in a whole that seems a bit murky. And not just murky, but also sort of befuddled. It’s a malt that really has no cohesion, but has an intrinsic niftiness that keeps pulling me back in. Hard to explain. At its heart, though, its a whisky that matters more for just being here than for what it actually is. It ain’t pretty, but it in its own way it is actually sort of beautiful.
Sincere thanks to my mate Brett Tanaka for the opportunity to taste this. The range of bottles he’s been opening for what we’ll call ‘The Brett Sessions’ are simply beyond comprehension. And I am beyond humbled to be able to partake. I’ll be reviewing dozens of them in the coming weeks/months.
Nose: Doughy, with a slight cheesy note. Salty dough, actually. And kinda footy, to boot (bad pun, I know). Nutty and putty-like. Faint peat with some muddled fruit mixed in for good measure. Damp burlap. Real apple juice. Cold coffee grounds. But the nuttiness is omnipresent.
Palate: Very hot and woody. Anise. Bitter chocolate. Walnut paste. Maybe some almond. Buckley’s cough syrup. Earthy and organic dried peat notes (as if it’s only just been lit). Cereal. Drywall mud.
Finish: Quite tannic. Mostly apple skins.
Thoughts: Overall? Quite challenging. Points could go up or down by a couple depending on time of day and how sentimental I’m feeling about these spectacular closed distillery bottlings.