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Innis & Gunn reveals 2023 Islay Whisky Cask Beer is its ‘favourite’

Innis & Gunn has collaborated with Beam Suntory’s Laphraoig distillery to create a 2023 iteration of its Islay Whisky Cask Beer.

The 7.4% Scottish red ale, which is brewed by Innis & Gunn every year before being matured in Laphroaig casks, has been made in a different way for each annual release. For instance, in 2021, Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask Beer matured solely in Laphroaig 10 year old casks, while in 2022 the beer was matured in rare Laphroaig ‘Quarter Casks’ which, being smaller casks, allowed a greater interaction between cask and beer. This year, the larger Laphroaig 10 year old, second fill Bourbon casks have been used for the initial 10 weeks maturation, followed by three weeks in second fill Port casks – as used for finishing Laphroaig.

Speaking to the drinks business, the Edinburgh-based brewery marketing manager Neil Sharp said: “It is a beer that wraps its arms around you (through the smoothness imparted by the casks) but which also refreshes.”

Explaining more about the launch, Sharp told db: “Our 2023 Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask Beer collaboration takes boldness to a new height, as Laphroaig is known to be one of the most richly flavoured whiskies. Our Innis & Gunn drinkers are people with a bold and broad repertoire of drinks, and so what could be better than inviting them to take part in this collaborative exploration of flavour?”

Additionally, he highlighted how “the base for our Islay Whisky Cask Beer has been brewed to put Laphroaig on a pedestal, by letting the beer’s sweet malt and barley highlight all the amazing flavours in that very special Islay whisky” and mused on how “whisky drunk neat can be a tight old thing” but explained that “whisky cut with water allows hidden characteristics to emerge”.

According to Sharp: “By merging gently sweet beer with this awesome whisky we have allowed a most enticing union to emerge, a creature of amazing complexity. Bold yes; delicious certainly. And unlike anything else you’ll find on today’s beer fixture.”

Innis & Gunn founder and master brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp also admitted: “This is my favourite expression of our collaboration with Laphraoig yet. The double maturation, and use of ex-Port casks, has brought further depth to the beer and introduced sweet, fruity notes which are in delicious balance with the briny-smoky hallmark Laphroaig taste. Both our brewing team, and the distillery team at Laphroaig really understand how to balance flavour and have pushed themselves this year to make something really special. This uncompromising beer unites brewing and distilling craftsmanship at its best.”

Laphroaig distillery manager Barry McAffer added: “I’ve always been a fan of Innis & Gunn, and this latest release does not disappoint. You’ll taste a whisper of peat along with a distinctive toasted malt note that comes from the Laphroaig cold smoking kilns, along with rich fruits and a long-lasting sweetness from the double matured port casks. The unmistakable refreshing citrus and orange rind flavours from the beer are followed by a warming finish with hints of oak and that classic understated bitterness that Innis & Gunn create so well. It’s a superb combination of cask, whisky and beer all perfectly balanced in flavour.”

Innis & Gunn Islay Whisky Cask, in its specially designed gift carton by Scottish artist, Scott Naismith, will be available from the Innis & Gunn webshop, priced at £6 per 330ml bottle. The beer will also be sold for the first time at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s nationwide from June, plus in Booths and in Tesco in Scotland at £5-6 per 330ml bottle.

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