Saturday, January 21, 2012

Innis & Gunn - Irish Whiskey Cask

ABV 7.4% (Bottled)

From the Bottle

"This special bottling of Innis & Gunn has been matured in rare oak barrels from a famous distillery in Ireland. These barrels had been used to mature one of the great triple distilled Irish whiskeys. The result of this unique maturation is a big, full flavoured, complex bee wit ha delightful warming finish.
We hope you enjoy this beer as much as we do."

The History

From Wikipedia:

"Innis & Gunn is a specialist independent brewing company based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Established in 2003, its beer has gone on to be the most popular British bottled beer sold in Canada, and second most popular in Sweden."

"According to Innis and Gunn's website, the process was discovered in an ironic accident: the intent was to create a scotch whisky with ale flavours. To do this, a special beer was created which would then be stored in the whisky barrels. After the beer had conditioned the barrels, it was to be discarded and replaced with the whisky. The brewers noted that the process had an agreeable effect on the beer, and thus aging the beer became an end in itself."

The Pour

The conditions were: Cellar temp, wide mouth Chimay glass.

The brew has a good 1 finger frothy head with some nice consistency and rich mocha/stout colouring. It did dissipate quickly though. The stout itself is black as night in true stout fashion, with some dark crimson/dark red wine highlights visible at the walls of the glass when held up to the light.

Aroma

Malty, with some hints of cinnamon coming through under the sweetness. There's also medium strength roasted ground coffee aromas, along with a pleasant alcohol undertone. I also detected bitter cocoa powder. I was disappointed not to be greeted with any Irish whiskey on the nose.

Taste

The start is Guinness smooth with just enough carbonation to just give it some zazz. On the tongue I got a delightfully creamy, medium/full bodied mouth-feel that was very well balanced between the coffee, sweetness and carbonation. The finish was smooth with very little taste in the back of the mouth except for some mild malt toastiness. There was also some welcome alcohol warmth in the chest.

Overall Impressions

I have to admit after I tried Innis & Gunn's Rum cask ale, which really took on the flavours of the rum to create a very unique beer, I did have some expectations for this brew. As a big fan of Irish whiskey I was hoping the whiskey flavours would come through in a stronger way than they did. I actually poured some Jameson's Reserve and sipped back and forth to test the flavours out. I found that the Innis and Gunn hits your nose like a whiskey in the bite and similar sweetness, but I was looking for some definite notes in the taste as well. As a stout this beer is very good, but for something aged in Irish whiskey barrels, I just didn't get the layers like I have in some other Innis & Gunn brews. All that being said I'll have to give this one a solid B. Definitely not a bad first go with a stout for Innis & Gunn, but it didn't knock my socks off with the full flavour and complexity it promised. Still I could see drinking a few of these, which makes it attractive in a different way than a stronger Imperial stout. This could definitely fit as a superior session stout. I'd love to see where they go with this line in the batches to come as they refine their recipes, and I continue to solute them for being the flagship of unique wood barrel aging at the LCBO.

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