Innis & Gunn
Oak Aged Beer
Yeah, I know: Why beer? Well, this week we are doing things a bit differently, but it will all make sense soon enough...
If you are reading this then you are probably aware that essentially, whisky is distilled beer. In most cases, it is a beer you wouldn't really want to drink. And while there are several examples of whisky-tinged beer (Nussdorfer Old Whisky Bier, Tullibardine/Bridge of Allan's 1488 Whisky Ale, to name just two), beer-tinged whisky is a new phenomenon. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's start with Innis & Gunn, Supreme Champion at the 2004 International Beer Competition.
In 2001, William Grant and Sons (Glenfiddich, Balvenie, etc.) were experimenting with ale-cask finished whisky with the help of Russell, and his son Dougal Sharp at Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, Scotland. The task was to create a malty beer that would 'season' the ex-bourbon barrels for whisky 'finishing'. This unique, malty beer was to be filled into the casks where it would rest for 30 days, imparting flavours to the wood, then dumped and replaced by whisky.
Within a year, Grant's Ale Cask Reserve (we'll taste it tomorrow) was a great success, but the real surprise was yet to come. Workers at the filling plant had apparently been tasting the beer before dumping it and finding it to be absolutely delicious. Proud of their little secret and unable to watch another drop of this blessed nectar go to waste, they confessed tasting the beer and made the higher-ups aware that this beer had taken on amazing characteristics from the casks and should be enjoyed in its own right.
In 2002, the beer was named Innis and Gunn after the middle names of Dougal and his brother, Neil. The beer is slowly fermented, put into cask for 30 days, then vatted together with the beer from other casks in a marrying tun for up to 77 days. Today, after years of growing success, increased production, and special vintage releases (2004, 2005, 2006), Innis & Gunn is still making drinkers happy across the world. Except for when the LCBO sells out and my uncle gets sad. Very, very sad.
Creamy nose, malt and hot fudge. Biscuity, lemony, Hob Nobs.
Full and soft, faint hops, butter, sugar and milk flavour. Pancakes.
Obviously, I am not really a beer taster. I probably ignored important things like head or carbonation, but I am Dr. Whisky, not Professor Beer. Very tasty stuff and GREAT with roast foods, like turkey or chicken. In my experience, this beer performs quite differently at different temperatures. The bottle reads 'serve chilled', but I would lean more towards 'cool' than 'cold'.
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