85 / 100
330cl brown wax-capped bottle, purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a dark brown-black—not like a heavy hole in existence, but more like dense cola syrup. Body is actually fairly light, and it moves swiftly through the glass. Carbonation is very fine, but comes through in swirling squalls. Looks good.
Nose is deliciously smoky with tons of Islay barrel goodness. But it has a richness underneath to support it—crushed chocolate biscuits and pancake batter. As it warms, the smoke turns less peaty and more like smouldering wood-fire. I get smoked bacon and BBQ aromas which really give a savoury richness to the brew. I really like it.
Taste is also extremely good. It's very sweet at its base, but that really allows it to explore all of the smoky complexities over the top. There's a kind of chewy, chocolate character in the centre, which connects with smouldering ash characters, and a slight twinge of medicinal peat. The back has characters of cherry, caraway, with more BBQ-style smoke to finish it off.
Feel is very chewy, and almost hot—it's a little bit like the feeling of drinking liquid chocolate.
Overall—I'm a complete sucker for an Islay BA imperial stout. I love the combination of elements. Here, the sweetness and the smoke is a little at odds, but it creates a wonderfully interesting clash for supremacy.