They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Clash of the Titans!

Tonight there brews a battle.

No, not a stupid battle like the pros and cons of CAMRA. Or a pointless battle like the battle of Cask vs Keg.... but a battle non the less!

It's a battle of flavour! A battle of two different whiskies! A battle of beer meets oak, and a battle of wood that's slightly older than other wood sort of battle....

Tonight there can only be one!

Or can there???

Tonight it's time to face the two Aether Blaecs, and let them battle it out to see which will prevail as my number one! Which tastes will come out on top, and will they be massively different? It's time to find out!

The Hardknott team have thought quite a bit about this one. Last year they released the Aether Blaec in only one cask aged style. This time while both have been aged in Speyside Casks the two distilleries are vastly different. The 28yr old Inchgower cask and the 27yr old Balmenach cask should impart subtle but different flavours to each Imperial Stout.

I'll start with what I'll assume to be the lighter - 27yr old, 7.2% version.

It pours thick and black, with a livley thick bourbon (biscuit) brown foam. There's lots to the aroma. It smells warm and fruity. Big woody/oaky vanilla tartness. Burnt black malts and a little bonfire toffee.

The flavour is very interesting. Perhaps a little young, but not in a bad way. (this sort of beer would age very gracefully) Lots of burnt malts in there, leading to a big bitterness which verges on the side of tartness. Overpowering dried fruits such as raisins and a little fig mixed within the huge woody body. A quite thin body, I was expecting a little thicker observing the pour.

Next comes along the 28yr old, 7.7% version.

A slightly different aroma - a little bit sweeter to nose with more caramel in there.

Thicker and richer in mouth-feel than the last. Big hints of liqourice mixed with big plummy tartness. Flavours of oily sandalwood. Some tar mixed with some chocolate coming through the finish. Some burnt cake and a little herbal-ness comes through in the finish alongside the power of the oak.

Two different beers then. They have their similarities: both have a rocky, smoky, slate like flavour in the background. They also have their differences: the 28yr is fuller and thicker. This is not a slag-off at the 27yr, no no, they're just different.

Both beers are quite different to your average Impy Stout. That's fine by me, I know this is how they were designed, and I'm happy to drink them. Very happy in fact!! They both have that rich fruitcake flavour, whilst lying behind a great plum tartness, with everything else going on in there to deliver an incredibly complex and delicious set of beers!

Cheers Dave and Ann and the rest of the team. I'm waiting for some Aether aged in a 25yr old Ardbeg cask now! ;)

It's been a fantastic night of enlightenment.

That's all it should ever be.

Drink good beer. Write about good beer. End.


  1. lovin the new ghostie pics!

  2. Neil - I don't really think I could say which was better. I can say that if I was to buy another it would be the 28yr old. There was something about the flavour in that one which appealed more to my tastes.