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On the Ayrshire shore, in the shadow of the mighty Girvan column stills once stood a single malt distillery, secretively tucked away in the belly of the beast. Like Ben Wyvis, Glenflagler, Inverleven and Kinclaith, Ladyburn was a child of her time, a short-lived fashion trend: a kangaroo distillery (a single malt distillery located within the premises of a grain distillery plant, trademark by Pandemonium). I do not possess any actual numbers on the operation, but from what I can summarise, like Inverleven, Ladyburn was a serious undertaking with her own uniqueness in style and set-up. However she soon fell victim to reorganisation of the mother company and was largely forgotten in the decades afterwards. Few bottles have made it out to the public, but those that did were well received. Though it must be said, they were often well into their prime before they saw the light of day. For example, today’s whisky was only bottled at age 37! Though the label does not clearly state that this is from the famed Ladyburn, it doesn’t take a genius to deduct that a lowland single malt distilled in 1975 in Ayrshire, called ‘Rare Ayrshire’ can only be from one distillery.
Description: distilled in 1975, matured in cask #3420 for 37 years and bottled in 2013 by Signatory Vintage as ‘Rare Ayrshire’ at 48.2% ABV.
Nose: shy and on the malty side at first, with notes of oak tannins, mango, papaya and honey. Gradually after it gets some space to breath, the aroma of ripe and succulent grapefruit develops.
Mouth: a creamy and oily body, with a candied fruity palate of lemon, bubble-gum and grapefruit. It reminds me most of those jelly citrus candies, rich and voluptuous in flavour along with a gratuitous amount of sugar. But now with a bitter grapefruit taste to finish it off.
Finish: medium bitter grapefruit, with a hint of vanilla and white pepper.
Verdict: Littlemill, you never told me you had such a dazzling younger sister! As far as I know Ladybank was never designed as high class malt. So is it all just influence from the cask or was the demise of Ladyburn a bitter loss for the industry? Long term wood influence is no guarantee for a spectacular whisky, though it might certainly increase the odds. My guess is that just as with Littlemill, the content of casks only started to shine after thorough maturation of a decade or two.