Green King: Innis and Gunn: Irish Whiskey Cask (Scotland: Stout:7.4% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown to black. Browned head, though not much of it. It tends to clump around the edges for what you do get as well.  Red highlights to the beer in the light,

Nose:  Charring. Liquorice and lemon sherbet. Rum and raisins. Shortbread. A grain like alcohol touch. Malt loaf.

Body: Sticky treacle and sticky toffee pudding. Slightly sherbety froth to the texture. Light oak influence.  Bitter and liquorice at the core. Vanilla beans. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Liquorice. Quite slick. Slightly oily texture. Dry malt.  Fish oil. Charring and bitterness. Brown or possible rye bread. Toffee. Ash.

Conclusion: It seems that the time spent in the whiskey casks isn’t the only Irish influence on this Scottish born stout.  The finish in particular reminds me of the dry highly attenuated finish of some Irish red ales. The main body similarly cleaves closely to the traditional Irish interpretation of the stout (for a mainstream reference imagine the standard bottled Guinness as opposed to the thicker creamier pub tap style).

The whiskey influence onto this is pretty heavy as well. Sweet toffee notes feel as if they have been rinsed throughout. In many ways it’s odd that it took this long for I&G to go the stout route for their beers as oak ageing in most of the industry has tended towards the heavier and darker beers as their base for a while.  It just seems heavier beers survive exposure to the spirit better that their lighter counterparts. For the most anyway.  Now they have gone the stout route they pick the lighter Irish whisky rather than the generally more booming Scottish whisky to go with. It copes better than you would guess at challenging the heavy stout flavours and has no problem making itself apparent.

The Innis and Gunn style is still highly event even with the change in beer style. By which I mean the weird mix of oak and almost bubblegummy feel which is hard to pin down in tasting but obvious whenever you are exposed to it in a beer.

So does it work. Actually yes. The whisky sweetness offsets the dry stout very well. It is in turns dry, bitter and slightly cloying put against a sweetness that by itself would be sickly but here balances well.

The range of stouts available these days is massive, and crowded with high quality beers. This is a good entry, maybe slightly sickly towards the end but that minor flaw is offset by the fact that this beer manages a distinct feel that stands out from the pack.

I’m sure there will have been Irish whiskey aged beers before, but this is my first encounter with such a thing and its mix of styling makes for a welcome difference for an old hand to the scene.

Overall and enjoyable and different celebration of the style. Very glad I got the chance to try it.

Background: I return from work one day to find this bottle awaiting me. Turns out the kind people who promote Innis and Gunn decided to send me a bottle.  Many thanks, it was a nice surprise and always appreciated.  This stout was aged in Irish Whiskey casks for 60 days after brewing.  I don’t think I have run into Irish aged beer before.  I think. Innis and Gunn have been solid to great in their beer releases so far (with the exception of I&G Blond, but I will let them off on that one). Despite the mass of stouts I have been drinking recently I don’t seem to be getting burnt out on them yet. Thankfully.