Mar 15, 2012

Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask

Innis & Gunn photo

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the samples of Innis & Gunn’s Irish Whiskey Cask (a barrel aged Scottish Stout weighing in at 7.4% ABV) when they first arrived a couple of days ago. Looking at the light brown liquid in the clear glass bottle certainly didn’t do much to instill any faith or excitement toward it.

Thankfully, the beer is so much more than meets the eyes. From the deep dark chocolate depths to the subtle and refined woody character, the beer really is quite good. Perhaps my overzealous American palate was expecting more, but I didn’t really pick up on much of a whiskey character to the brew — it only arrived in faint hints here and there throughout the drinking experience which, in the end, was very pleasing.


First of all, what’s up with the clear glass bottle. I would think that a beer of this caliber would be better served in a brown bottle to protect it. At any rate, the beer certainly didn’t look like a stout in that bottle, but once poured into the snifter above, it quickly took on a very stout-like appearance. The dark liquid sits with a slowly falling light tan head.


There is a good amount of chocolate coming off the top of the glass along with a light roast and a subtle “barrel” character. I would be hard pressed to tell what sort of wood was involved, but it definitely has a touch of barrel aging.


The nose may have been lacking a little, but this is where the beer really shines. Rich, dark chocolates, a touch of oak and a little vanilla make up the majority of the flavor profile. I don’t pick up much whiskey character initially, but it does open up a bit more as the glass warms. After only 60 days in the barrel, I wouldn’t expect this to have an overly strong whiskey note. For as light bodied as the beer looked sitting in the bottle, it’s much fuller on the palate, moving smoothly over the tongue to a lightly bitter and semi-dry finish.


Honestly, first impressions weren’t looking good for this beer, but once it started to open up it really showcased its depths and complexity. It’s not going to confuse your tastebuds, but it’s got plenty of rich flavor to keep you excited for each sip. I’d love just a bit more whiskey notes in the mix though.

Rating: 4/5

This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

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