TRUE SCOTCH ALE from the oldest continuously occupied castle on the British Isles. Fluff, yes, but well-earned with this quintessential brew. Unassuming looks, though: a murky cola, like muddy water almost, with a low carbonation level and half a finger of head. Mild aroma and a comparably understated opening for its 7.2% strength, too, but its endgame is everything. At chillier temperatures chalky, almost coppery dark malts, pronounced yeast fust, and a oaky toffee envelope that smooths out all the old flavors that could in isolate strength feel defective. A little oily and virtually none of the East Kent Golding hops come through. Becomes more balanced and luscious as it warms, with dark cocoa and ginger appearing at either end of the spectrum around a poignant central tang of toasted rye and a bit of unrefined maple or molasses. Medium full body with a comparatively clean finish. Minimal alcohol presence, but a slightly medicinal, almost herbal warmth around the top of the palate that tingles with breath. Almost peaty. A long two-hour boil at its birth and and plenty of aging since then have made this a patient and dense experience, but not a cluttered one. Its strong but smoothing nuttiness makes it a match for hearty stew and spices. Rated here a point higher than its brother the Jacobite, but essentially a dead heat.
Served: 33 cl bottle (L8072)