Archive for February, 2021


Kininvie: 23 Year: Batch 3 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 23 Year: 42.6% ABV)

Visual: Very pale yellow. Some very small particles evident in the whisky. Fast and thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Light. Some alcohol. Oak. Barley biscuits. Peppery. Dry fudge. Water adds light lime and kiwi. Shortbread. Light sulphur. More fudge.

Body: Smooth. Tingly. Vanilla. Fudge. Peppery. Oak. Honey. Vanilla toffee. Menthol touch. Water makes very smooth. Brings out grapes. Thicker feel and more honey. Toffee style ice cream syrup. Kiwi. More menthol. Light strawberry.

Finish: Peppery. Caramel. Dry fudge. Sour dough. Water adds toffee syrup. Light sage and onion. Menthol. Brown bread. Liquorice touch.

Conclusion: This is a gentle, subtle yet complex one. Neat it has just a touch of the alcohol showing, but nothing too heavy. Water both cleans that up and also somehow makes the whisky feel heavier and more doughy.

Neat it is generally sweet notes played in quite a clean fashion, though the sweet notes vary quite well from standard toffee to sweeter honey character. It uses a peppery base to savoury it up. So, smooth, tasty, variety to the sweetness and savoury underline – enjoyable but nothing too unusual or special.

Water, as mentioned, makes it feel thicker, darker and with slight sulphur notes giving a lot more weight and character to a still smooth whisky. Similarly a touch of green fruit comes out, low at first and increasing with time. There are the not uncommon green grape notes, but also a more unusual kiwi kind of savoury-sweet character. In fact the whole thing now feels more savoury and more stodgy. The sweetness is always there as a contrast against what is now a bready main character. It feels like it makes the brighter fruit notes have to work to push through, but they are even more enjoyable for that when they do show.

It is really good, slowly revealing a whole mix of notes beyond the main ones we have already discussed, the only thing it lacks is that inexplicable element that turns a good whisky into a favourite whisky. It feels like a toffee syrup covered dessert with a bready core and green fruit high notes and somehow pulls it off.

Definitely a worthwhile whisky.

Background: Another whisky from a distillery I have not tried before – if I remember rightly it is part of Monkey Shoulder blended malt, but that is probably the limit of my exposure. Anyway, had heard good things about this, being a half bottle it was expensive for what you get, but not bank breaking to try, so I did a quick google around and found it available at Whisky World so grabbed a bottle. From my research it looks like this distilleries’ bottles were originally only available through duty free, where I have seen them a couple of times, but they are now in the wider market. Wanted something atmospheric to back trying this whisky, so went with Ulver’s Flower’s of Evil. Probably their best album since Shadows Of The Sun in my opinion. Great stuff.

Big Drop: Einstok: Arctic Beach Coconut Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque main body. About a centimeter of browned head.

Nose: Coconut. Milky chocolate. Almonds to marzipan. Hot cake sponge.

Body: Milky chocolate. Lots of coconut. Cake sponge. Mild iced tea. Occasional light black cherry. Good texture – fluffy cake sponge like. Slight sulfur.

Finish: Clean. Coconut. Almonds. Light charring. Light bitter chocolate. Iced tea.

Conclusion: Ok, you all probably know by now that I love coconut notes, and this is a literal coconut stout, so I have to love it, right?

Well, love it may be too strong a choice of words, but in general, yeah, this is my jam. The coconut is super present in a very clear, slightly dry way. So, in case you hadn’t working it out yet, make sure you are a coconut fan before coming in on this one as it DOMINATES!

The main body is fairly simple. Basically working moderate chocolate and heavy coconut. Chilled down it is slightly, but not overly, thin. A it warms it gets a surprisingly fluffy cake sponge kind of thicker texture which really helps the stout feel.

As always the aroma promises waaaay beyond that the body can deliver. Lots of thick cake sponge and almond to marzipan like notes. Somehow the air itself has a wonderful thickness to it. One day we will get a low abv beer that manages to live up to wonderful aromas like this.

For now I’m just happy this is decent. Not really complex, but has a bit of nuttiness and a few hints of other flavours that show it is trying. On the down side there are occasional tells to the low abv in iced tea notes, but the darker beer style means that they are rare.

An ok low abv stout that utterly rocks the coconut and so pushes itself higher than it would otherwise.

Background: Second beer tried from Big Drop’s second world Collaboration box – the Nordics. This one is done in collaboration with Einstok. I’ve had a couple of their beers before. Nothing stand out but nothing terrible. This one definitely caught my eye as a stout made with coconut. I adore coconut notes in my stouts. Looking at the can this was made with Magnum hops, which seems to be a common choice for their non hop led beers, as well as lactose, cocoa nibs and, of course, coconut. Had been playing the free 5th chapter for Ultimate Doom – known as “Sigil” recently, so went with Buckethead’s soundtrack for that as background while drinking. That version of Doom: Sigil cost’s around seven pounds, unlike the midi sound version which is free – but the tunes are awesome and well worth it.

Sharp’s (Molson Coors) : Doom Bar Zero (England: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Moderate beige head. Clear main body. No real evident carbonation on the eye.

Nose: Walnuts. Crushed peanuts. Lightly earthy.

Body: Chalky. Nutty. Walnuts. Charring. Subtle toffee. Dry treacle. Earthy. Prickling. Mild savoury cream core.

Finish: Chalk. Nutty. Charred touch. Dry treacle touch. Earthy. Fluffy hop feel. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Is making a low abv take on a more traditional British bitter a thing now? I hope so. You don’t realise how much you wanted a beer style being done in a low abv way until a bunch land on your lap, like three buses arriving at once after a long wait.

Like the low abv Speckled Hen before it this has a pretty good mouthfeel. Though this has a less syrupy, Marstons like texture than The Speckled Hen did – aiming instead more towards a slightly drier and more prickly bitter feel, which I approve of.

The flavours are similarly towards a more traditional style – earthy in the bitterness, nutty in flavour, with a good hop fluffiness in the finish. Now, comparing it to my memories of the full abv version is going to be slightly vague, as it has been a while since I had one of those, but from memory, this seems to have less evident toffee sweetness – which makes sense given the lower abv. Also it seems less sulphurous. I am aware though that I used to mainly drink Doom Bar on cask, so this may be a bottle vs cask thing rather than a low vs normal abv thing.

It is a solid beer, earthy and dry enough to be very easy to drink. In fact if it was alcoholic I would call it dangerously so – but as it it slips down right.

Now it is nothing too out of the normal, but I am finding it better than all the similar low alcohol traditional bitters I have encountered so far. So, for now it fills the place in the line up nicely, and shows that there really is a place for more earthy alcohol free bitters.

Background: Yes I will do non low abv notes again one day. Blame covid. It is the reason for everything else bad so it might as well take this one on the chin as well. Anyway, saw this in Sainsbury’s and after my decent experience with low abv Speckled Hen thought I would give it a try. This is a surprising 0.0% abv beer, not even 0.5, so again I guess they probably brewed it then artificially removed the alcohol rather than brewed it as a low alcohol beer. Though that is just a guess. Doom Bar is a beer I am surprised I never did notes on the normal version. Short story of my experience. Initially found it very dull, but then one day boom – I had one that seemed so much more complex with sweet toffee under the sulphur. It was then I realised the importance of well kept casks and fast cask beer turnover. Most places I had it just were not treating it right as it was their token cask beer. Done well it was a satisfying pint. Went for SOPHIE: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Sides again for music while drinking. Loving it.

Big Drop: Firesider: Pumpkin Spiced (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)


Visual: Dark brown. Thin off white to browned head that is mostly clear bubbles.

Nose: Cinnamon sticks. Nutmeg. Greenery. Cloves. Pumpkin. Orange skin. Malt chocolate.

Body: Nutty. Light chalk. Pumpkin. Cloves. Gingerbread. Greenery. Black pepper.

Finish: Cinnamon. Turmeric. Gingerbread. Dry. Nettles. Cloves.

Conclusion: Ok, this is definitely a spice led beer, there is no hiding that. So, let’s see if that spice led character helps it get past the common low alcohol beer issues.

The beer side of the beer’s body is more a feeling than a set of flavours. There is a bit of malt drink to malt chocolate in there, a chalky touch that oft comes with low abv in dark beers, but that is well hidden. The main beer style that seems to be pushing through here is a kind of nutty brown ale character that seems to work well as a savoury base for the spice to work from.

The cinnamon seems to lead the spice character, giving an understated sweetness. You then get the cloves working the back of the main body and lasting long out into the finish. Soooo, kind of feels mulled spiced to me. What is the difference between mulled and pumpkin spice? Should I google? Should I already know? Anyway, we all know what mulled spice tastes like right? It tastes kind of like that.

Despite using pumpkin as one of the ingredients instead of just the spice, the pumpkin flavour is unreliable and waxes and wanes throughout the beer. Sometimes it makes for a rewarding and solid middle to the beer, other times it gets easily lost in the spice. The beer is never pumpkin led, but it does do enough with it to earn the beer’s name.

While most of the beer is exactly what you would expect, the most unexpected event is that there is a peppery undertone character that comes out. It is another savoury grounding and gives a nice, neutral grounding from the heavier spice flavours.

Ok, it is now getting hard to do much more useful detail here. The beer is well spiced, but not clingy so the spice doesn’t become annoying. However definitely spice led and that seems to work very well at hiding low abv flaws. Basically this is a spice beer done well, not much extra, but does exactly what is expected, just at a super low abv, which is cool.

So, I enjoyed, not a super beer, but super well done spice, making a good low abv spiced beer.

Background: Not one of the recent four pack of collaboration beers, this is fact one of the two winter seasonal beers they released. This one having pretty obvious inspiration from all the pumpkin spice stuff that goes around in the fall. Anyway it is made with (deep breath) Magnum hops, lactose, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and pumpkin. So fair heavy loaded. Also, noticed that it had actual pumpkin listed there as often pumpkin spice just referred to the spices. Anyway, another one from Independent Spirit. I went with SOPHIE: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Sides while drinking. Only found about her music with her death which made it a very bittersweet listen – amazing electro pop music found out in such a sad way.

Big Drop: Amundsen: Rush Rider Pastry Sour (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear yellow brown. Small bubbled carbonation in small amounts. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fresh strawberry. Jelly babies. Apple pie jelly centres.

Body: Slightly chalky. Danish pastries. Jelly babies. Cider.

Finish: Apple pie. Chalky. Gummy bears (Different from Jelly babies, yes?). Pears. Apple juice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m split on this one. It is pretty unusual. Admittedly I’ve not dug much into the pastry sour scene, so maybe this is 100% normal there and not a big thing, but it is odd to me.

The aroma is full on Jelly Babies sweet, with fresh red fruit in a more natural way alongside those more artificial flavours. Soooo, pretty unlike any beer I have encountered. Very interesting, it isn’t very sour, nor even really pastry for the most part, but very dessert styled.

Chilled down the body is fairly empty and lightly chalky, with only a light sour characteristic and no real definition to it. Then again I find that issue common with a lot of low abv beers, as it warms it becomes more cider sour with those jelly baby notes coming through again. That said, it never becomes as rich and fruity as the aroma promises.

The finish returns to some of that apple pie centres and more jelly babies. Tart apple underlining it, but still chalky.

It is decent but the main two flaws, that being the charring and the lack of weight mid body, both give away the low abv. The aroma is amazing, and the finish lets the jelly baby and light sour notes roam, but the mid body just can’t seem to get the grip to really deliver. You are relying on the air of the finish for a lot of the fun. And it is fun, but the body should be doing its job as well.

So, yeah good aroma and very fun finish. This is a laugh, but sours seem to get especially short changed by less that 1% abv beers. Which is odd considering how many great sours there are on the lower end of the abv scale. So this is decent, fun, but not great.

Background: Low alcohol stuff! Man this is nearly turning into the low alcohol and whisky blog. Anyway, Big Drop, doing their second collab box with people around the world. This time with various Nordic countries – this one being with the Amundsen brewery from Norway. Though I will point out their first world collab box was with the UK, where they are based, so does that even count? Eh, probably, we are in the world, much as some people living here seem to hate to admit it. Anyway, this is a pastry sour, which is an odd concept to me, but seems a popular style at the mo. Looking at the ingredient list it is Magnum hopped, and has Malt Vinegar, Malic acid and Citric acid in its odd ingredients. Guess that is what is needed to get the sour style at low abv. I went with the Undertale Live Orchestra as live music again. It is a nicely quirky but chilled style that works well for drinking. The box of beers was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

%d bloggers like this: