Monday, 10 December 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 10- BrewDog Tokyo Rising Sun Highland Edition

Good evening all. I'm fairly exhausted tonight after a day of jamming and composing, so it's taken a fair bit of effort to get myself interested in day 10's offering; quite a shame really when you consider what I found behind the cardboard door. It's Tokyo Rising Sun Highland Edition, an Imperial Stout from BrewDog (Fraserburgh, Scotland). This beer was brewed back in 2008 and then aged in whisky casks (either Lowland or, in this case, Highland) for 4 years. Considering that most barrel-aged Imperial Stouts spend between 6 and 12 months in casks before being bottled, this has all the potential to be pretty epic. Review after the pics....

Tokyo Rising Sun Highland Edition (13.2% ABV) pours a ruby-tinged black colour with a thick brown head that quickly settles to a thin halo around the inside of the glass. The aroma is pretty intense, with plenty of whisky, yeast extract, caramel and some light coffee and chocolate in the background. The whisky and accompanying woody notes hit the olfactories immediately, and quite surprisingly manage to maintain this power over the course of the beer. The caramelised sweetness is rich and compliments the barrel-ageing nicely, and there are some dark fruits (mainly blackcurrant) that combine with the other predominant aromas fairly readily, creating a fortified wine smell. The taste capitalises on these aromas very well, with whisky, chocolate, caramel, yeast extract, a fruity tartness and some oily smokiness in the background. Because the alcohol power is predominantly in the taste as opposed to the volatility, the palette isn't cleansed as regularly as with more vapour-prone barrel-aged offerings, so the sweetness does start to cloy after a few sips. The whisky and fruity tartness work well together and help to offset each other to some extent, but the power of these flavours means the subtleties of the roasted malt are only partially discernible. Now and again the whisky seems to take on a smoky, almost peaty Islay character- particularly Laphroaig with the iodine-heavy palate- which lingers on in the slightly-dry finish with some yeast extract. The alcohol content might be high, but it's disguised very well and it never feels like you're drinking something this titanic. The mouthfeel is thin and the beer is lightly carbonated, which is perfect for a beer of this magnitude (both in terms of flavour and alcohol content). Overall, a great offering from BrewDog that combines the usual full-bodied sweetness of Tokyo with the power of the whisky cask remarkably well; the barrel-ageing hasn't created a better beer, but it has crafted a unique entity that's definitely worth trying if you can still find a bottle. A bit overpriced by most, if not all standards, but I have no regrets when the outcome is as good as this.

Until next time....

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