Before Scotland’s Innis & Gunn Brewery started bottling its unique oak-barrel-aged ale, the brewmaster was making a similar beer for a whiskey distiller. (They don’t say, but it’s most surely Grant’s.) The beer was used to season whisky barrels and then dumped – thousands and thousands of gallons down the drain. Turns out, the distillery crews were drinking some of the waste and enjoying it. I first had the original Innis & Gunn last year, and while I suspect my bottle was skunked, it has interesting notes of wood and peat, vanilla and cinnamon.
Now, I’ve got a bottle of an Innis & Gunn variety that does its time in both fresh oak barrels and barrels that held maturing rum. In the glass, it’s an orange-red ale and very fragrant. I can smell the rum (almost like banana), the oak, and malt. What little head there is doesn’t last long.
The mouthfeel is thicker than expected, but not overly heavy. The oak and fruity rum are right up front, and while that could be overwhelming, the bite is nicely rounded off and balanced by malty, caramelized, brown sugar sweetness.
There’s a bit on alcohol “heat,” but you’d want some of that in a rummy beer. At 7.4%, be careful it doesn’t sneak up on you. I think I like this better than the “original” Innis & Gunn. A beer this dark and deep usually says “winter” to me, but the rum barrel influence is putting it on my summer schedule.