Weird Beard: Hanging Bat: Jack’s Rye Smile (England: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)
Visual: Cloudy dark red brown. Large inch of creamy brown froth head.
Nose: Roasted nuts. Chocolate cake sponge. Bourbon. Orange. Tart raspberry crème. Lightly milky. Coffee cake. Light cellar’s air.
Body: Malt chocolate. Coffee cake. Vanilla. Bourbon. Orange. Slight sour lime spirit. Slight rye crackers. Tingling alcohol feel. Custard slices. Golden syrup.
Finish: Sour lime liqueur. Vanilla toffee. Bourbon. Sour dough. Malt chocolate. Light pepper and spice. Alcohol air. Caramel. Coffee cake.
Conclusion: I’ve really been working my way through the different adjunct wines recently. This one is probably one of the better ones to have come out of my recent flirtations with the styles. If I had to say why, I would say it is because the base beer seems to match the barrel ageing so well.
The rye influence makes this taste a tad black barley winesque, albeit this is smoother than most black barley wines I have had – it plays with soft coffee cake, nuts and malt chocolate. There isn’t as much rye spice character as I would expect, possibly because of the big sweet malt dose, backed up by the barrel ageing. There is a lot of big flavours to overwhelm more subtle spice.
Speaking of the barrel ageing, it comes across very clearly, without dominating – they instead seem to complement each other very well. There is lots of vanilla, and in fact more raw “Bourbon” feel than almost any barrel ageing I have encountered. I think this may be because the base, whilst big, is less dominating that say an Imperial Stout, so it really seems to let that spirit character play. It adds a distinct alcohol air to it all in a boozy fashion.
The two work very well together, with vanilla backing the coffee cake, and the bourbon air lasting out over the slightly peppery finish. The bourbon ageing also seems to bring some of that orange spirity notes into play as well – at least I think it is the bourbon, it seems to have shown up in a lot of American wood barrel aged beers recently.
While not superlative, it is good. Unfortunately the high golden syrup sweetness plays away from its strengths. The main core of sweetness is average, all the fun comes from the more mellow surrounding notes. However there is a lot to recommend in the surrounding notes. If the alcohol had been a tad better hidden this could have been a very luxurious, sipping, malty rye ale. As is it is still very welcome and with a hell of a lot of character.
Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is a rye wine that has been aged in bourbon barrels – and from the name I would guess Jack Daniels, but that is just a guess. I ended up losing half of the bottle in a slight mishap, so this was based on about 300-400 ml worth, which I figured was more than enough for a set of tasting notes. Drunk while listening to the Jet Set Radio OST, which is fantastically funky and awesome, even if it does miss out my two favourite tracks from the game.