Lookout Scotland, Beer (I mean HERE) I Come (Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer)
I am writing this 24 hours before I’ll be sitting on a plane bound for Glasgow. Decided it might be a good time to dip into Innis & Gunn’s Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer that’s been waiting for such an occasion:
Similar to my earlier poston Fuller`s 2008 Limited Edition Vintage Ale, this is a limited run. The Scottish brewery does not grant us access to the exact quantity brewed though they do state they limit production to 150 Oak Barrels. A US barrel is 116.3 liters (31 gallons) while a UK barrel is (36 gallons) is 163.6 liters. The packaging mentions American barrels before refilling to rum barrels – it is unclear if they are intending American or UK at that point. This leaves us with 17,400 to 24, 548 liters of beer assuming they are using standard measure. This is a contrast from the Fuller`s Vintage which came in at 72,500 liters.
Unfortunately these bottles are not numbered. They are moderately cheaper than the Fuller`s alternative – $4.95 per bottle. It weights in at 7.4% alcohol by volume and 330 ml. The box, while pretty, is inferior to the previously mentioned product:
I do, however, prefer the bottle to the other:
Packaging, however, does not make a beer alone (read the sarcasm there please )
My Father has hunted the same land with the same families for more than 40 years – the same land I now join him on. When I was a child I remember the men drinking swish. They would buy used oak barrels used to make rum and put water in them, leave them in the sun and roll them every few days. This would make a special kind of moonshine as the water pulled the alcohol and flavor from the oak barrels. Apparently Innis & Gunn decided this would be a good idea for beer.
The beer has a 3-part aging process. Stage one takes 30 days in American Oak barrles followed by 30 days in Rum barrels and then 47 days further to mature. The 107 day process makes most Canadian beers (aged within 10 days) seem awfully young. Budweiser takes 28-30 days in contrast.
This is not a beer for everyone – it is initially sweet and bitter and the more you concentrate, the sweeter it can seem. Dana thought it reminded her of scotch and didn`t find it entirely pleasant. I found it easy drinking and surprisingly smooth. There was very little `kick` (a combination of bitter and crisp) that often kicks in a second or two after swallowing a full-bodied beer.
It is a dark red in color and is an easy drinking bottle. It does remind me of the morning after a long night when I stare down a plate of deep fried hangover and order a glass of water, a coke and a beer. The rum flavor is subtle until you concentrate on the full tastes in your mouth and it comes alive. When trying something new like this make sure that you have the time, environment and patience to really take the whole thing in. I don`t recommend jumping off the lawn mower and swilling this down. Dim the lights down, turn the TV off, pour, smell, watch, taste and share. Read tasting notes such as these, the ones on the box or other sites. Try to pick the flavors out – there is no right or wrong here; your caramel may be my toffee or someone else`s molasses. If you try it with an open mind, you are doing it right!
My only complaint is that it is BEER. There is no distinct style other than it`s own and I find that a little disconcerting.
This is a bevy to test the water of `specialty` beer or imports for those who haven`t tried such a beast before. It is important to keep an open mind – if you are expecting Coors Light you are likely to be disappointed. For me it`s a nice beer to keep on the shelf for a semi-special occasion – like cleaning day! It`s well worth a try…