Innis & Gunn Original is damn excellent. There’s certainly something to this trend of barrel-aged beer. The good ones tend to be… well, really good. But as far as Innis & Gunn goes, I’ve only ever had the original. Then the Rum Cask-aged Innis & Gunn started popping up on my local shelves. Can’t turn that one down. Checks in at 7.4%.
So a surprising amount of head on this one, and I was especially surprised by the sturdiness and creaminess of it. Usually with a stronger brew, these fizzle out quickly and leave a tiny barrier between you and the beer, but this one stuck around for a while and looked quite attractive on top of what is a gorgeous beer. Deep, dark, ruby red highlights, with some dark purple or fuschia tones tucked in there as well. The aroma is one you’ll want to spend a little time with. You certainly get the rum, but there’s plenty more going on here; I get a strong burnt sugar overtone, with some dried fruit and vanilla tucked underneath that as well, with just a touch of booze.
I love a good barrel-aged beer, but it’s not uncommon to run into some problems with them. Some of them can easily end up being all barrel and no beer, and it’s almost as if the barrels strip the beery identity away, getting lodged in the wood somewhere. That is most certainly not the case here. You’re perfectly aware that you’re drinking a beer. A very good one, one whose flavors marry beautifully. I’d say a more distinct vanilla flavor comes out to play, and we come back to that burnt sugar touch, joined by a touch of hot spiciness, both of which I would imagine come from the rum barrel. It certainly has that liquory, boozy quality, but it’s remarkably well-blended into the rest of the body. Raisins and maybe even dried apricots come out a bit, and you’re constantly reminded of the beer’s strong, malty base, providing ample sweetness. Bit oaky in the finish, and a pinch of alcohol gently stings the back of the throat.
The Verdict: Complex, deep, dark flavors intertwined with a touch of alcohol and a rich, malty body. Great, great stuff.