Ever since its appearance when drinking with a friend of mine over by the Major Oak (see this review) I have been hankering after this one. It had been produced with much fanfare by my drinking colleague as being acquired at the brewery itself as a limited edition. We both agreed on the evening that it was a good ale and worth having again, and I have been on the look out for it ever since. Imagine my surprise and happiness, then, when I found it on offer at 80p a pop!
I know, I couldn't quite believe it either! I bought eight. Drank them all. Bought a nice round dozen and then distributed some to my work colleagues and then realised that I hadn't actually got round to reviewing it on its own yet. Well, far be it from me to do such a thing! Thus we move onto this evening's entertainment: Distiller's Cask Range from Theakston's. And a lovely brew it is too.
And, yes, that is the glass I acquired from my first beer festival earlier in the year, yes. I do rather like it, almost fits the full 330ml in a single glass without looking too silly. Would you like to know more?
This was a difficult one to categorise in terms of what kind of ale it actually is. Back when I first had it I tentatively suggested that it ought to be amber. I have gone along with that contention here despite the fact that there is a reddish hue to the whole affair and that my camera makes that even redder than it first appears. I put this strange effect down to the fact that it has been brewed in part in casks left by the whiskey brewing industry. My love for whiskey infused ales is, perhaps, one of the features of this place and why I come out in support of most of the efforts by Innis & Gunn (here) for example. The aroma of this is predictably spicy and very much infused by an aged whiskey, this is no adding of essence, and there's some quality in whatever was held in these brewing casks before they put the ale in them. There's a sweetness there but this is balanced by the hops of the ale and the malt that does a good job of mashing them together. Little in the way of carbonation on the pour but there was a head for a moment or two, missed by my photography efforts, before it just becomes rather calm.
I like the browns and the depth of colour on this one, it's a good look and rather comforting for someone who is like myself. What do I mean? I'll leave that one to the philosophers. Taste is exactly what you might expect: there's a rush of sweetness with the kick of the whiskey before it is beaten up by the passing carbonation, a spear or two of bittering hops, then the malt comes and smothers it with a velvet texture and returns that initial whiskey rush but mellower and less powerful. You can tell that it's around 6.5% ABV because it doesn't even pretend to mask its strength and nature. No, there's hops here but the whole affair is dry, rapidly approaching that dryness even as the liquid spills across the tongue and down to the back of the throat.
Willow has expressed approval at this one before, though tonight I have this one to myself whilst she researches and writes upstairs. A good mouthful finishes with a whiskey scent and couples well with the bouquet to produce an overall feeling of relaxation. This is an ale that will not let itself go full throttle on the hops and malt and, instead, lets that whiskey call the shots in the aftertaste as it builds around the middle of the mouth and leaves the back of the throat almost untouched. It takes a while to really nail this one down properly, it may not be a dark and cold night but it certainly does what it promised all that time ago. Goodness, it was over a year ago!
This is good on its own, like I'm having it tonight, but it also works well with most foods as well. I've had it with shop-bought pizza, home-made fruit curry and vegetarian pies. It performed well with each of those and, despite its strength, it performs surprisingly well as a drinking ale. In which area I must counsel caution as I suspect it will not session well owing to its massive hit and way of letting you know that it is no lightweight. This could easily lead to sore heads and regrets in the morning but in a single helping of an evening it can carry more weight than it would initially suggest. Very moreish, it demands multiple tastes and does not do well being chugged, it's much too refined.
This is your refined rugby player. They sit and listen carefully to discussion, have a degree in something traditional and hard, like History or Law, and they are easily the person that smiles the most in any crowd. When you approach, they instantly greet you as a friend and then draw you into a crushing friendly embrace. Her Scottish accent pervades talk of sport, politics and the finer points of engineering. A scientist with biceps that could kill but never will: that's this ale.