Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask Oak Aged Beer
Scottish Stout Matured in Irish Whiskey Barrels
I was contacted before St. Patrick’s Day about reviewing a new beer from Innis & Gunn. We don’t really do beer reviews here but when I hear it was a Scottish stout aged in Irish whiskey barrels my interest was piqued. For those of you not familiar with Innis & Gunn they make oak barrel aged beers. The founder, Master Brewer Dougal Sharp started quite by accident with a contract to season oak barrels with beer for a whisky producer. Somewhere along the way they tasted the “seasoning beer” and found it to be uniquely exceptional. Since then they’ve played around with a number of different casks and this is their latest.
Admittedly, I have nowhere near the experience with beer that I do with whisky. So in all fairness to the brewer I’m bringing in a pinch hitter on this one. My friend Sam is a mathematics and statistics guru, photographer, foodie, and more importantly a beer enthusiast with decades of experience. I’ve been dragging him down the slippery slope of whisky for a few years now but he still loves a tasty brew. He kindly agreed to help me out with this review.
What the Brewer Says:
This special bottling of Innis & Gunn has been matured in rare oak barrels from a famous distillery in Ireland. These barrels had previously been used to mature one of the great triple distilled Irish whiskeys. The result of this unique maturation is a big, full flavoured, complex beer with a delightful warming finish.
Nose: Vanilla, Oak, Chocolate, Treacle
Palate: Rich and intense dark chocolate
Finish: Complex and satisfying, with a lingering oaky sweetness.
Food Matches: Haggis, smoked venison and chocolate cake.
What Sam Says:
This has the consistency of a Lager (I’m thinking of the Guinness “Black” Lager because of its dark/black color) … it’s called a “Stout” but it’s not what I think of when I think Stout relative to the “thick” consistency… maybe the Scots do it differently?
My first impression is chocolate and it had me wondering if it would go well with some dark chocolate. I didn’t have any but I did have some lamb chops with a rather sweet olive tapenade. This beer complimented the food very well. Irish Whiskey Cask? The first thing I was looking for was the strong hints of whiskey, but I didn’t find it (and through my continuing education about whiskey, I did suspect that it might not be as evident as say a beer aged in a bourbon cask). Oddly enough, I was about half-way through the glass, and it was like “there it is!” So I drank some more. The effect of the Irish Whiskey Casks is faint, but I think that’s a good thing. There are some beers aged in whiskey casks that might as well have been a shot poured into the glass. This one complimented the beer and seemed to stay behind the curtain until it was ready to be introduced.
I would recommend this beer to my beer-loving brethren with confidence while knowing that Innis & Gunn is one of those polarizing brews (some love it … some hate it). My favorite Innis & Gunn is still the Rum Cask, but the Irish Cask is a solid #2 in their lineup.
What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, malty, a little nutty
Palate: Chocolate sweetness like a dark chocolate of moderate cacao. Nutty with a little bite too it I don’t find in a lot of stouts. Over ripe apples that have gone a little mealy. Golden delicious or granny smith maybe.
Finish: Fresh warm rye bread, the aftertaste of fine aged English cheddar, and a berry fruitiness.
Comments: I don’t have the experience with Innis & Gunn that Sam does but I’ve also heard their beer can be a little polarizing. This is great stuff. Their cask aging gives the stout a sharpness and a layer of flavors that I haven’t seen much in other stouts. This one is a real winner.
Rating: Must Try
I would like to thank the folks at Handcrafted PR for sending over bottles for review.