The Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Beer, Fresh (from part 1)
In 2006 Innis & Gunn began releasing special edition beers for the winter season. The first special edition was exactly that, the 2006 Innis & Gunn Special Edition. In 2007 we got a delicious and unique India Pale Ale. Then in 2008 Innis & Gunn introduced the Rum Cask Ale, the first of a few variations of the Original altered by changing the Oak Barrels in which the beer was aged in.
For the 2008 Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Ale, rather than just ageing the beer in White Oak Bourbon Barrels as usual, it has been aged in used Navy Rum Oak Barrels as well. The beer is first made just as the Original is by ageing it for 30 days in the whisky barrels. But then, it is aged for an additional 30 days in rum barrels. This new and exciting beer is then left to marry for an additional 47 days so that all the flavors can mellow.
The Rum Cask fresh was a magical treat, and such an exciting addition to the Innis & Gunn family (not to mention my fridge!). The Rum Cask came in a black special edition, individually numbered box bearing the beers heritage right on the front. A new charcoal and goal label was used on the original bottle, and this new beer stands strong inside of it. It’s the same color essentially as the original but apparently darker, richer, and shows more mahogany now. This beer has spent more time aged in wood than the original, so it’s now 7.4%, up from 6.6%, and you can pretty much see that reflected in the beer.
The pour is the same as the original; smooth, deep gold and rich lifting a medium head which slowly fades back to the surface. Now lean in for the nose and get ready for a treat. All the same beautiful scents are there, but they are now complimented by a more charred oak, rich spice, molasses, and a rummy touch mixed with the whisky finish. It’s so fun, because this really isn’t a different beer, it’s more of a modified beer, and contrasting the two is fun and delicious.
Once you are ready to drink the Rum Cask, you will be rewarded immediately. The original glides smooth over your tongue gracing your palate with distinct and elegant flavors. The Rum Cask however has a bit more power; rather than letting your senses enjoy the flavors, it forces them to enjoy by dictating oak, vanilla, toffee, spice, molasses, smoke, toasted almonds, cereal, pear and even a touch of floral starting at the tip of your tongue, evolving all the way to the edges of your cheeks and back of your mouth.
The Rum Cask shows richness everywhere which I happily welcomed. It’s got more zest, more fruit, more caramel, more spice, and a unique rum characteristic I continue to describe as molasses. This makes the Rum Cask hardier, more scrumptious, but less quenching and refreshing. In the summer of 2009 when Neil Innis Sharp was in London Ontario to release the Innis & Gunn Blond at Chauncy Smith’s Steak House I enjoyed the Rum Cask paired with a dried fruit and raisin chocolate flourless rum cake. You cannot imagine how remarkable this pairing was. I still consider it the best food and drink pairing I have ever enjoyed.
So the Rum Cask stands in high regard in my books, and all my friends seem to agree that it was a sensation special addition, and more so was extremely fun to compare a whisky aged beer to a rum aged beer. It was so good, that I bout four additional bottles to age and test; two of them six months later, and two of them one year later. I wanted to see how time would treat this beer, as I have noticed that slightly aged originals become a tad more potent and that much more exceptional.
The Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Beer, One Year Aged
Its New Year’s Eve 2009 and we are on the brink of our 10th year on the 2000’s. Pretty exciting stuff, however what I am most excited for is the 2008 Innis & Gunn Rum Cask which was been maturing in my cellar for the past fourteen months! Three days in Huntsville with my brother and great friends at a beautiful cottage filled with delicious food and beer already got me pumped, and when the eve finally rolled around I opened up that beautiful Rum Cask.
I distinctly remember it when it was fresh, and also remember how well it aged at six months old. I was anticipating more of that molasses spice, rum sweetness, and classic Innis character. It poured about the same as it had previously, but it lifted less head, but it remained this time around. The beer was slightly darker in color, and has lost some gold; it was now more of a burnt read to mahogany finish. I was still excited by this point.
The nose those gave it all away. Where we used to find vanilla, whisky, spice, pears, oak, and nuts I was left with sour. Just sour! All I could pull out of the nose was tart, slightly funky lemon peel. I verified this with my mates around me, and they proved I was not insane. And the taste? Well, it was like going to meet your childhood hero years later only to realize that they have become a fat, out of shape couch potato with a bad beard.
All the toffee, the caramel, the oak, honey, molasses, spice, fruit, and creaminess was all gone and converted to a tart, lightly bitter, lightly sweet, rind like finish. The beer had aged beyond its ability. This really was a sad moment; however it did yield a very important lesson. We now know that Innis & Gunn’s cannot be aged for this long. From my experiences now, Innis’s are best from fresh to five or six months old.
This discovery also left me with an interesting problem, which was more of a pleasure – my cellar was still filled with several Canadian Cask, Triple Matured, and Rum Cask Innis & Gunns. So, it looks like I have to drink them all soon!