Something a little different today as we look at what might be the best hauf n' hauf in the world...
Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask (2022 release)
Price: £6.00 for 330ml bottle
This is the second addition of Islay Whisky Cask and like the first release is a Scottish Red Ale, this release was matured for twelve weeks in Laphroaig quarter casks. The initial release used casks that had matured Laphroaig Ten.
This has a very deep red / black colour, and could almost be mistaken for a stout. When poured it had a finger width head that disappeared quickly.
This opens with an ashy smoke that brings along with it some kippers and bovril chocolate. Going back to it we’re also getting some caramel and a hint of bitter oak. The nose is really sweet and hoppy with a nice big of hit of smoke that tells you the cask maturation isn’t just a gimmick.
On the palate initially we are getting hints of tobacco, some malt, caramel and blackberries. This is followed by the smoke which, like the nose, shows as ash. The smoke really lingers on the tongue. Going back to it there is a meaty side to this beer and we’re getting bacon rasher crisps and bovril. The smoke is well balanced with the sweetness, and while this is hoppy it’s not overpoweringly so. Its very smooth, easy drinking, and has a good mouthfeel for a beer at 7.4%.
This is very pricey for a beer, but us it’s worth it. We love the balance of sweetness and meaty smoke. We could see ourselves drinking this at a BBQ with a burger, or just as happily drink on its own while sat next to a warming log fire in winter.
Shame we can’t forego the admittedly very cool packaging for a few quid off the beer.
We paired this particular beer with a dram from independent bottler Dram Mor.
Dram Mor Williamson 6yo Cask #316
For those who are unaware, Williamson is not a distillery but a name given to 'tea-spooned' Laphroaig. To create a teaspooned whisky, an actual teaspoon of another single malt is added to a cask of the single malt whisky. The name Williamson was given to teaspooned Laphroaig because of Bessie Williamson (1910-1982) who previously owned and ran Laphroaig distillery.
After distillation the spirit spent 6 years and 9 months in a refill bourbon hogshead. Only 348 bottles were available worldwide.
Initially on the nose we’re getting sweet notes such as vanilla pod, and lemon juice, following into a little lavender, some kiln smoke, a minerally sea breeze, and roasted hazelnuts. It’s smokey on the nose, but it’s really the non peated notes that stand out for us. Going back to it there’s some porridge oats and brine.
Similar to the nose the sweetness hits you first, it’s like double cream vanilla ice cream, and caramel. This is followed by sardines, TCP and almonds / nuts roasting on a BBQ. It has a long finish with a light spice in the form of turmeric and chilli. The high ABV isn’t noticeable and it has a great mouthfeel that’s very oily and coating. It’s really well balanced between the sweetness and the smoke.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose has developed a coastal / maritime note along with some caramel / treacle. Water has reduced the smoke slightly and we’re getting still getting hazelnuts, but they are no longer roasted.
Palate (with water)
Similar to the nose there's now a touch less smoke, and this had become sweeter with more of the vanilla influence from the cask shining through. We can taste a touch of seaweed and apple that wasn’t on the unreduced palate. The mouthfeel has lost a little something, but it’s not bad, just slightly diminished. This still remains well balanced between the peat and sweeter notes with the addition of water.
Personally we don’t think this needs water added, we’d rather have the extra peat, but even with the addition of water It’s a good dram. We can see an argument that this is too expensive and while we don’t necessarily disagree with that we can’t help but be impressed with the quality, and that’s why we bought two bottles.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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