Beer of the Week: Innis & Gunn The Original Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

Launched in 2003, Innis & Gunn has since become one of the UK’s most successful international craft beer businesses. In 2016, for instance, the brewery sold more than 27 million bottles of beer around the world. Operating from a site in Perth, Scotland, Master Brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp and his team develop and barrel-age an assortment of beers sourced to over 28 countries. Alongside Innis & Gunn’s flagship – The Original – the award-winning brewery’s repertoire also includes American and Session India Pale Ales, plus a constantly developing programme of limited-edition, barrel-aged beers. Innis & Gunn also opened their first Beer Kitchen – a restaurant concept with focus on beer and food pairings – in Edinburgh, during 2015, and have since opened sites in Dundee, St Andrews and Glasgow.

Brewed using a unique ‘barrel into beer’ method (circulating the beer through broken bourbon barrels for between five to 10 days, technically allowing the brewery to use a ‘barrel-aged’ label), Innis & Gunn’s ‘The Original’ Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale is brewed with Super Styrian hops and three malt varieties: Innis & Gunn Ale Malt, Crystal Malt and Raw Wheat. When poured, the amber liquid is topped with a thin white head, with some visible carbonation. On the nose, prominent rich malt notes are traceable alongside some earthiness, fig, light peat and orange oil. Underlying vanilla and woody, spicy notes are present, typical of bourbon barrel ageing, but very slight on the tongue. Instead, the beer has strong roasted malt character, plus flavours of toffee, wort bread and a touch of ginger, leading a spiciness reminiscent of Lotus Biscoff coffee biscuits.

Elsewhere, Innis & Gunn’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale has a medium body and some fair bitterness, though the prevalent alcohol potency is somewhat astringent. Moreover, as expected from a Bourbon barrel-aged brew, the finish is relatively oaky, warming and exceptionally smooth.

Further information on Innis & Gunn can be found here.

Photo: Alan Richardson

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