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Tasting Notes: Wild Beer Co: Smoke and Barrels 2018: Islay Whisky

By Alcoholandaphorisms

Tasting Notes:  Wild Beer Co: Smoke and Barrels 2018: Islay Whisky

Wild Beer Co: Smoke and Barrels 2018: Islay Whisky (England: Smoked Dubbel: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Opaque. Small bubbled carbonation. Caramel head with dark brown troughs in it.

Nose: Liquorice. Gin. Gooseberries. Sour plums. Medicinal meets broth. Tart black cherries.

Body: Tart. Liquorice. Bready. Iodine. Sour black cherries. Tannins and teabags. Gin and juniper. Medicinal and salt.

Finish: Medicinal. Sour red grapes. Teabags. Woody. Peppery. Tannins. Tart raisins. Smoke and dust.

Conclusion: Well, even having had the un-aged version of this, I was not expecting this to be as tart as it was. With it being a Dubbel at the base, and Islay barrel aged I was expecting a lot of big things, but not something this mouth refreshing.

The aroma didn’t really give it away – it has tart hints but that meets a brothy and medicinal character from the time in Islay oak that gives thicker and meatier imagery. So, when I took a sip and got a sour Flemish bruin meets dubbel kick it was kind of a shock.

It is all about the dark fruit, sourly delivered – backed by medical Islay character that makes the mouth sparkle. The oddest large element is the tarter notes that feel very gin influenced with sloe and juniper floating around there.

Now I will admit that for the first few sips I was not a fan – I was expecting something closer to the 2017 version, something tart but still recognisable as a dubbel, just with enhancements from the special ingredients. Instead I find something utterly dominated by them.

So, I decide to take my time and try and work out how to describe it- imagine a dubbel mixed up with a gin, a rodenbach grand cry and a shot of Caol Ila and … well you roughly have this. It is heavy duty with sour, medicinal and tannin notes all mixing. It is a bit prickly edged as beers go and feels like it needs a more solid core for the notes to work around. While the fruit character is dark and sour it isn’t in a thick way that gives a solid core to work from. It does gain a bit by the end though, resulting in a smokey, full flavoured, sour dark fruit beer – which if not perfectly delivered is bloody intriguing.

So, unusual, prickly edged and tart- no polish, all experimental. Intriguing, smokey and pretty tasting – but needs a bigger body to make it all work. Good but not a must have.

Background: From a quick look around I think this is the same beer, or at least a very similar beer to the one that Wild Beer Co released as the Winter 2017 Smoke and Barrels. What makes this different is it has spent the intervening time in Islay barrels aging. Which is pretty much why I grabbed it. I love a good Islay whisky. So, to go over it again, this is a dubbel brewed with smoked malt, infused with cherry and chestnut wood and made with sloes smoked with liquorice. Which is a thing apparently. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I was expecting something big and slow to drink (no sloe puns please) so put on the excellent moody tunes of Godspeed you! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! To listen to. Utterly awesome experimental tunes that make great drinking music.

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