About two and a half years ago we went to Scotland on our family holiday. Apart from spending a week on Skye, we also spent a week in the vicinity of Loch Ness.
During our stay there I (obviously) had to meet up with my buddy Jon Beach. He runs the Fiddler’s Inn in Drumnadrochit, which is a nice restaurant and an awesome whisky bar. He also hooked me up with the guys from the Loch Ness Brewery. Jon wrote a great report on my day in town.
Of course we kept in touch, and the better part of a year ago I got an email saying he sent me some of the new Whisky Beers that Jon has been developing with the guys from the Loch Ness Brewery.
When he said ‘some’, I expected two or three bottles, but it turned out to be ten. A few different versions of the range from the brewery. Over the last couple of months I’ve been slowly making my way through the beers and after all was said and done for the Blind Tasting Competition I decided to finally do a write up of all bottles.
Now, obviously, I find out I didn’t write tasting notes on them all. Most likely because there were multiples and with the first of each I thought “I’ll write notes with the next bottle”, while with the next bottle I thought “I already tried one, so my notes are already done”.
That’s what alcohol does to your brain, boys and girls…
Ghost of Tranquility 4.5%
Ghost of Tranquility is a red ale, matured in whisky casks. Red ale is, normally a bit of a middle of road beer style and I’ve not had many great ones. I did like this one though. There’s lots of earthy tones with licorice and bay leaf. I also got some cherries. The wood is clearly present, but not quite overpowering. (7 / 10)
Prince of Tranquility, 10.1%
The Prince of Tranquility, a spin off from their ‘ness’ beers namely the Prince of DarkNESS. It’s an imperial stout and therefore one of the more obvious beer styles to mature in whisky casks. It’s sweet, thick and heavy with lots of malt and a slight hint of coffee. Some oak and light bitterness, it’s also quite ashy.
An interesting beer that’s heavy but has lots of light flavors. (8.5 / 10)
Double Cask Prince, 10.1%
This is even bigger than the previous one. Also an Imperial Stout. It’s got roasted malt, grain, oak on the nose. Also it’s oily with plums and coffee and even slightly smoky. The palate is more smoky than the nose was with sawdust and smoke. Dried fruit and plums on the finish.
Another gorgeous beer that I’d love to have more off (as with all of them, by the way). I might have to go to Scotland to get me some in 2016! (8 / 10)
Peated Cask Seven, 7.1%
I didn’t really know what to expect, except that it would be a smoky beer. This one is a Scottish Ale, also known as ’80 shilling’, but with oak. You might want to know that I love this style of beer.
I misplaced my notes for this one, but I remember there being a lot of wood influence with it. The slightly roasted barley of the beer stood tall, with the peat flowing around it nicely. There were the more herbal notes of bay leaf and licorice too, and I really loved this one. (8.5 /10)
The Pict, 4.4%
Then, another lighter one. The Pict clocks in at just 4.4% ABV and my brother in law (a more Belgium focused beer drinker) told me he has a hard time liking these low ABV beers. Unlike the 14% stuff we had the rest of the night… Interesting…
Anyway, another 80 shilling ale, I guess based on the ‘Loch Ness’ beer the brewery has (which I also love).
It’s quite similar to the Peated Cask Seven, as it’s more or less the same beer. It’s slightly more mellow and a bit more sweet, but still had the roastiness of the barley, the licorice and the bay leaf. Even some salmiac and definite but gentle wood tones. (9 / 10)
I based my ratings here on what I entered on Untappd, but my favorite two beers are the Peated Cask Seven and The Pict. They are just awesome. And unique, that also helps.
All personal preference aside (well, not really), these are all really good beers. I’ve not come across many breweries that make quality beer at such a consistent level. Back when I was at the brewery in 2013 I also tried quite a few trial runs of this, from Mortlach and Caol Ila casks, and some bottle conditioned versions of their regularly available filtered beers. I remember loving those, even at 10 in the morning.
These add another layer of interestingness with the wood and whisky influence in them. What they’ve done well is getting the beers out of the cask before the oak overpowered the other flavors, which is a simple question of timing, but pretty important nonetheless.
I highly recommend you go after brews like this if you’re in the area. I don’t have a clue where you can get them but I bet Jon Beach has some available in his lunch bar / wee shop next to Fiddler’s.
Thanks to Loch Ness Brewery and Jon Beach for giving me those beers.
If When I’m in the area again I’ll make sure to bring some interesting stuff for you to try too.