One Scotch, One Beer, and One Bourbon (Sort Of) #BrewedAwakening

By / Wine + Drinks / January 25th, 2018 / 8

Although I’m Scottish on my mother’s side, being a Nicoll (Clan MacNicol), I don’t typically celebrate Robbie Burns Day. That may seem strange, especially since I love Scotch and I love Scottish beer. I actually like haggis, too. The last time I was in Scotland, on a whisky tour a few years ago, I imbibed a lot of whisky and Scottish real ale. It was fantastic. What a pleasant change from the last time I was there over a decade before, when full flavoured cask ale was harder to find.

This week I am drinking Scottish for #BrewedAwakening. I’m having some Innis & Gunn beer – their Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale – alongside some Scotch, a 12 Year Old Dewar’s The Ancestor Blended Scotch Whisky. So it is kind of a One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer thing, although a little mixed up.

I admit I’ve been a bit harsh in the past with regards to Innis & Gunn. I’ve found some of their beers to be too sweet and lacking balance. And their lager? No comment. But I have a soft spot for malt forward beer, and this 6.6% alc. Bourbon Barrel beer is definitely that, malty, with some oak character, but reasonably dry. I also really enjoyed their Blood Red Sky Rum Barrel aged beer – it’s a strong red ale with lots of caramel malt and pleasant barrel influence. It’s dangerous.

I bought the Dewar’s because it was slightly discounted (to around $35 in New Brunswick), and it intrigued me. With the big increase in Single Malt whisky prices over recent years – it is hard to get a really good one for under $60 – I’ve been on the lookout for inexpensive blends that have a lot of Scotch character. The Dewar’s is quite nice, with definite Scotch character and barrel complexity. It isn’t peaty at all, but is a very good value blend, rich and malty, and could pass for a much more expensive Single Malt.

How are the beer and whisky together? Well, if you’ve ever sipped Scotch with beer, like I have on many occasions, and did regularly on my last trip to Scotland, then you already know that a sip of Scotch with a malty beer is a lovely combination. This holds true here. Cheers to Scotch and beer, to Clan MacNicol, and cheers to Robbie Burns, too.


Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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