A beer matured in casks from each of Scotland’s five malt whisky-producing regions has been released by Innis & Gunn.
The limited-edition Malt Whisky Trail, with ABV of 7.4%, comes in a 330ml bottle – the latest brew to showcase the company’s specialism in oak ageing of beers.
At the base of Malt Whisky Trail is a 90/- ale, or a “wee heavy” – a traditional style of medium-bodied Scottish amber ale that Innis & Gunn found robust enough to handle the more assertive malts without overwhelming the subtler flavour notes.
Innis & Gunn matured the beer in casks sourced from five distilleries in the Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown for 30 days before blending it to produce a rich, balanced Scottish ale with layers of complex and delicate flavour.
Founder and chief executive Dougal Sharp said: “At Innis & Gunn we have a hard-earned reputation for innovation and ingenuity, but it turns out that the best idea had been right in front of us for years. We already use oak casks from our good friends in the Scotch whisky industry, so why wouldn’t we take it one step further?
“We wondered what would happen if we used barrels from all five whisky-producing territories to mature a single beer. It took many phone calls, tasting trips and favours being called in, but we’re a pretty determined bunch.”
In finding the perfect flavour pitch for Malt Whisky Trail, Dougal added that the biggest challenge was to create harmony between all the different component parts. “It was really important that we let the individual malts shine, but not dominate,” he said.
“The whole process started with finding the right base beer, one that would be strong enough to stand up to the more powerful flavour characteristics yet gentle enough to not swallow up the more intricate ones.
“Then we had to let it mature for just the right amount of time in each barrel to give the whiskies enough time to make their mark but still allowing the rich malty sweetness of the brew to come through. It was a real balancing act but we’ve absolutely found the right balance of flavour with this one.”
The beers are retailing through Innis & Gunn’s online shop for £35 for 12 single-boxed bottles.