A

Aerstone Sea Cask & Land Cask

We try to cover all bases here at Malt. Generally, Mark sticks to the finer things in life, like well-matured Dronachs, Laddies, Balvenies and his über-favourite, Macallan. Jason and Noortje practically bathe in older Cadenhead releases, then occasionally clean their toilets with Jura. The rest of us are generally in the lower Malt caste. Taylor is going all out as Adam’s replacement in Vanilla town, Dora recants tales of what got her into whisky in the first place and I occasionally get stuck with monstrosities like Springbank 15 (too soon?).

Thus, as a willing underling in Malt-land, I recently (a few months back) padded my way into a local Tesco to see what was on offer in … their Whisky Dungeon of Doom! Yes, folks: it’s supermarket time again!

Back in February in Glasgow, I had a great chat with Roy Duff (@Aquavitae) about what we do collectively at Malt, as well as how he approaches his excellent vpub pieces on YouTube. Part of that chat was also about our whisky progressions, our personal whisky journeys and how, as we move along, we can sometimes pay little heed to where we came from, and become guilty of easily dismissing what were initially the building blocks of our love of whisky.

I’d say that for many of us, supermarket aisles were key to letting us explore a wider whisky world, and that was certainly the case for me personally. Balvenie 12 was the expression that really got me and encouraged me to start broadening my horizons.

Now I have got to the point where I rarely buy from my local supermarket because it’s generally the same high volume brands that I have grown a little tired of: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Jack Daniel’s, et cetera, et cetera. I will admit that I do use the supermarket to top up on some whisky cabinet essentials like Black Bush, Redbreast 12 and Ardbeg 10, though, so it’s not all totally bad.

I noticed on this fine day in Tesco that they had brought in a couple of new lines, one of which was the Aerstone Land Cask and Sea Cask expressions. These are 10-year-old single malts from the Ailsa Bay distillery owned by William Grant & Sons of Glenfiddich and Balvenie fame. What caught my eye was the price. Usually £30 per bottle, they were on offer for £20 each, so I figured I’d take a punt. On a much more recent trip to Tesco I saw this offer being repeated, so it looks like the availability for £20 could be a fairly regular occurrence.

In an effort to make choosing whisky a much simpler affair, Aerstone give us two choices: the Smooth & Easy Sea Cask or the Rich & Smoky Land Cask. Funny that they have chosen such descriptors for each of the monikers. For many, the coastal implications of the Sea Cask would conjure up images for briny trawler nets and smoking peat bonfires, while the Land Cask may imply summer orchards and heather honey.

Anyway, here’s the marketing guff straight off the Aerstone website, so you don’t have to waste your own time looking it up!

‘Enjoy Sea Cask and Land Cask. Our two carefully matured 10-year-old single malt whiskies with two clearly differentiated tastes. Sea Cask whisky is smooth and easy thanks to the maturation process in our warehouses by the sea on the Ayrshire coast in Scotland. Land Cask whisky is matured further inland using Scottish highland peat for a rich and smoky character. Aged in separate casks and exposed to opposing climatic conditions, Sea Cask and Land Cask are both matured to sip, savour and enjoy.’

As regards further information on maturation, that’s your lot, I’m afraid. Bottled at 40%, more than likely wearing a little fake tan, let’s jump into the tasting then, shall we?

Aerstone Sea Cask – review

Colour: Glenfiddich standard gold

On the nose: I found this to be quite a tight nose and not particularly forceful. Biscuit base, warm bread. Honey, vanilla and some malt. Eventually some stewed apples with a dab of envelope glue. Black pepper, cinnamon and just a very faint note of cocoa powder.

In the mouth: Lacking in body for me. Actually, quite earthy and musty on arrival, but I didn’t pick up on any of the saltiness suggested by the name. Malted cereal and grain husks. Honey, just about. Then becoming quite tannic, dry with a touch of tired clove, and quite a bit of citrus pith. The finish is very short, slightly reminiscent of a really dry white wine, with loads of oak and that underlying earthiness.

Score: 3/10

Aerstone Land Cask – review

Colour: See above

On the nose: Immediately a more expressive nose than the Sea Cask. A healthy dose of brine and forceful peat smoke. Cracked pepper corns, mustard powder, coal tar soap and a little barbecued meat.

In the mouth: Houston, we have a problem. Burnt rubber and melting plastic. Coal tar with smoked lemons and brine. Green olives and flint. There is a hint of fruitiness trying to break through, but the acrid smoke of burning tyres consumes all. The finish, thankfully, is short, but is totally dominated by that acrid smoke.

Score: 2/10

Conclusions

So it’s another particularly disappointing visit to my local supermarket off licence.

The Sea Cask is pretty unimpressive stuff, thoroughly one dimensional and bland. It’s drinkable, just….but I couldn’t say it was an enjoyable experience. The Land Cask….well if drinking the remains of tyre-filled bonfires are your thing, then you are in for a treat. Not as bad as the West Cork Distillers Peat Charred cask experiment, but not far off, this is a dram I’d encourage you to steer well clear off….there is certainly no joy to be found here.

At £20 a bottle, I couldn’t recommend these, never mind the original asking price of £30. Here’s hoping the next supermarket purchases will be greener pastures.

CategoriesBlends
Phil
Phil

Hailing from the north coast of Ireland, my love of whisk(e)y started at an early age. As a baby, my mother would occasionally dip the nipples of my feeding bottle into whisky to get me to feed (not a joke!) and so a seed was planted. I started CauseWayCoast Whiskey Reviews in December 2016 after peer pressure from friends who frequently tell me that I am ‘fairly opinionated’ about whisky... amongst other things.

  1. Avatar
    WhiskyWolverine says:

    So aerstone sea cask gets the same score as Springbank 15? I kid I kid! Good review Phil, keep keeping them honest.

    1. Phil
      Phil says:

      WW,

      Thanks for the comments.

      I believe that the Springbank 15 review will go down in the ‘most contentious’ section in the annals of Malt history and much like Proper Twelve will follow me wherever I go.

      1. Avatar
        Stephen says:

        Do you think people outside Norn Iron will understand what “ the remains of tyre-filled bonfires” smell like?

  2. Avatar
    Kenny says:

    “Funny that they have chosen such descriptors for each of the monikers. For many, the coastal implications of the Sea Cask would conjure up images for briny trawler nets and smoking peat bonfires, while the Land Cask may imply summer orchards and heather honey.”

    Thank you for mentioning this! It’s been bugging me ever since the adverts for the bottles started appearing in my Facebook feed. So much for simplifying the tropes around whisky to introduce it to non-enthusiasts.

    I’ve had a dram of the Land Cask, and it didn’t do much for me.

    1. Phil
      Phil says:

      Kenny,

      Thanks for stopping by Malt and also commenting.

      This feature immediately struck me and seemed quite counter intuitive. I’m not sure who on the William Grant & Son marketing team thought that this would be a clever or good idea but it certainly doesn’t work and if anything is actually rather confusing.

  3. Avatar
    djrobbo83 says:

    Reading the intro got me thinking – has there ever been a Black Bush review on malt?! Surely it’s time for one of the best value whiskeys around got some airtime? Maybe it’s because the scores only go to 10?!

    Ps. Love the occasional supermarket whiskey review, makes it much more relatable to us mere mortals…and in this case saves me spending £20-30 on what seems to be mediocre whiskey

    1. Phil
      Phil says:

      djrobbo83,

      I actually don’t think we have reviewed Black Bush here. I agree with you, I think it is one of the best value whiskies out there. I have reviewed it on my own website so I think I’ll leave the Malt piece on it to someone else. Maybe Jason or Taylor would like to step up to the mark?

      Cheers for commenting!

      1. Avatar
        Ed says:

        Some wit on whiskybase suggested that the name has been mixed up and it should have been ‘arsestone’.

        I like these BFYB reviews. Crabbie’s standards are excellent value. Ileach, wolfburn etc.,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *