I recently ordered a pick n' mix case from Black Isle Brewery in North-East Scotland. I drank a few of their beers at the weekend (review here). In addition to their core range they release special "one-off" brews, three of which I managed to get hold of.
Export Scotch Small batch is a souped up version of their regular export scotch (reviewed at the weekend) Its pretty challenging but enjoyable all the more for it. Dark brown.Dry and spicy, hint of rum, hedgerow fruits, treacle, liquorice. At first quite dry and fruity, wood, sultanas, tobacco, leather, smoke, molasses and kola in the long finish. That 7.9% ABV is very well hidden so beware! Quite sticky but also prickly carbonation. Would happily drink this again.
Red Hot Chili Bock was brewed by Tim Anderson (2010 Masterchef winner, yes he gets around a lot!) for a food and beer pairing dinner.Fluffy tan head on a ruby tinged black beer. Sweet aroma with golden syrup, a bit of smoke and black pepper. Sweet malt followed by an oily chilli with milk chocolate, a hint of coffee and mustard with an escalating chili warmth in the finish. A bit overcarbonated and thin in body, surprising for a 7%-er. I reckon that this could be tweaked to make a great beer.
Black Isle Black Islay is the brewery's stout aged in Bruichladdah casks. Bruichladdah being the dram that made me realise I enjoy Islay whiskys after all I've been pretty keen to try this one. Coming in at a whopping 8.3% and in a 750ml bottle this is definitely one for sharing! Except I neglected to listen to my own advice and have polished off the best part of a bottle in short shrift as its so enjoyable! Dark ruby brown bordering on black with big fluffy cola head and iodine/seaweed/briney/fruity aroma. Very smooth, vanilla, moderate carbonation, smoke. Long complex finish, a bit more vanilla, dried fruit, that seaweed. If you get your hands on any Black Isle beer I'd recommend this one. Its made me want to try the base stout too!
I also had one final "core range" bottle (it didn't fit into my rainbow) Heather Honey beer. Pale honey amber coloured with brief fluffy white head. Slightly dusty sweet honey and butterscotch nose. Light palate with gentle floral notes, vanilla and a sweet shortcake finish. Like a kolsch/helles in some ways, refreshing and probably a match for chicken or white fish.