Ainsley Brae comes from the relatively unknown Alexander Murray & Co LTD. They say of their offering:
The noble cask, constructed of oak and bound by copper, built to be secure and revered for its trans-formative qualities, has transcended cultures, shaped industries, and given birth to some of the finest food and drinks brands around today.
From the times of the Romans to the great trading companies, who sailed the high seas, right through to prohibition and finally today, the cask has not changed significantly; it still performs the same role as it did throughout those ages, securing spirit for transport, and slowly shaping its qualities.
The cask has traveled the length and breadth of the world, but is at home no more so than in Scotland, where in warehouses in the most secluded parts of the Highlands and Islands, families of casks are left in peace to slowly do their work, changing new spirit into Scotch whisky.
This magical process is not yet fully understood, the interaction of spirit and wood, but known for certain is that the result is one of pure perfection; a process where human interaction is not required.
Ainsley Brae, created out of a great affinity for the cask, Scotland, and its whisky, sets out to bring you quality and depth, along with variety and value, in every whisky released under the label.
We pick our casks on quality of build, quality of wood used in construction, and durability; with each cask having previously held other makes of spirit.
The choice of cask is critical as is the hunt for the perfect whiskies: We travel the length and breadth of Scotland, collaborating with distillers who we count as friends, taking pride in selecting only the finest, most exceptional whiskies that are a perfect match for our casks.
Steeped in history and folklore, the Highland region of Scotland is at the very heart of malt whisky distillation. This whisky has been carefully selected and represents all the very best qualities of the region.
Nutty and quite chocolate-rich, with notes of butter, toffee, cranberries, jam on toast, and some maple spice. Sweet oak on the palate with hints of toffee popcorn and salted butter. An oaky and spicy finish with hints of nutmeg, ginger and toffee apples.
My goodness, what fluff!
Now I have a few issues with this Whisky, but all of them are with Alexander Murray & Co's marketing department. The copy is unrelentingly braggadocious; like this completely unheard of brand going to set the bar for everyone else. It feels incredibly contrived, "This magical process is not yet fully understood," what? What process? Distilling? Or how the composition of a cask affects the flavoring of its contents? Because both of those things are pretty well-understood and are far from being magical.
But that's just me, I have a personal hangup about unnecessary fluff and flowery language. This whole thing read like a student trying to meet the word-count requirement on an end-of-the-year essay; flagrant use of unimportant nonsense that is easily identified as an attempt to sound more competent and thorough than they actually are.
Then there's the bottle. Good golly Mrs. Molly, am I in an eastern European night club at 2am popping ecstasy and dancing to industrial trance? This bottle looks like it walked straight out of one of those obnoxious Ed Hardy stores. But, hey, again, that's just me. Working in the graphic design industry for 12-years can make anyone sound like a holier-than-thou film critic.
But here's what matters
The whisky is good. Very good. The presence of the Burgundy notes is so present that your brain will call your nose a liar and your tongue a cheating tramp. This is clearly wine. This is clearly Burgundy.
But it's not, and both the finish and the mouthfeel betray that instantly. A light oily texture with notes of nutmeg and toffee. On the finish, warm cranberry sweetness and the dryness only a Burgundy can deliver. With a deeper and more investigative nose you will find chocolate, maple, and the ever so faint presence of crisp green apples.
Dammit, Ainsley Brae! I want to judge this bottle so hard for being a boastful newbie with loud style and stupid typesetting, but I can't! I can't because this product is absolutely goddamn delicious. And my job is to be honest, so here's the honest truth.
Ainsley Brae is the victim of a malicious graphic designer and the beneficiary of benevolent casks and brilliant distillers. Well done, you loud bastards. Well done.
The bottle costs $30, go pick one up.
Tanner's Score: 92 (yes I changed my score from an 88 after a second tasting)
Eric's Score: 88