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Judge's Review: 90 Rating - Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale by Innis & Gunn Brewing Co.

April, 2018
Judges Rating: 
21 / 24
6 / 6
35 / 40
10 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale by Innis & Gunn is a bourbon barrel-aged Scottish Export and is being judged as a Wood Aged Beer (category 33A in the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines). Wood aged beers typically display a harmony between the wood and the base style, optionally flavored with spirits from the previous contents of the wood. Innis & Gunn typically wood ages beer by their "barrel into beer" process where barrels are broken down into smaller part, toasted in a kiln, then soaked in the beer.

This Scottish ale pours dark golden/light amber with a small, resilient off-white head and excellent clarity. The aroma showcases rich caramel malt with a light smoky and earthy accent and a hint of vanilla. The flavor continues to display the rich caramel maltiness with a light smoky element along with a light vanilla and toasted oak. The beer finishes lightly bittered with rich caramel malt along with toasted oak and a hint of smoke.

The base Scottish export style is excellent with a rich maltiness accented by a light smokiness. The barrel-aging imparts a background of toasted oak into the beer that complements the maltiness well, but the amount of barrel character is less abundant than most wood-aged craft beers. Unfortunately, no bourbon flavors make it into this beer. Definitely seek out this beer when looking for an excellent Scottish ale, but if you are looking for a beer that displays a ton of rich and complex barrel character, you might be disappointed. Sláinte!