Advent Beer – Æther Blæc 28 Year 2010

My previous Advent Beer was Hardknott’s Æther Blæc 27 Year 2010, so it it seemed logical to drink the sibling Æther Blæc 28 Year 2010 bottle as the next beer. It’s been aged in a barrel from the same distillery, that amazingly enough, had whisky in it for 28 years, rather than just 27 years. This kind of thing fascinates me, as you get to find out the characteristics of individual barrels and how they impart their flavours on and change the base beer.

It poured a jet black with a very good brown tan head. In fact, I wasn’t really paying attention at the end of the pour and the head came spilling over the edge of the glass from no where. Unlike the 27 Year though, the head didn’t last and dropped to a ring round the edge of the glass fairly quickly. Learning a lesson from the 27 year, I took this one out the fridge well before I started to drink it, so that it wasn’t too cold. I’d definitely say that both these beers shouldn’t be drunk cold.

The nose was quite intense, far more so than the 27 Year version. There was a definite woody edge to all the hedgerow fruit and I suppose, a bit of character from the whisky as well.

It felt smoother in the mouth than the 27 year version, and didn’t bubble on the tongue as much either. It was just as full bodied, but it felt more intense as well. Where the 27 year had been subtle and rounded, the 28 year was just more. It wasn’t in yer face, as such, it was just more powerful in all the flavours. The woodiness was greater, the fruity after taste was more intense and lingered longer. The hedgerow berry flavour was really to the fore as well, I wouldn’t say just blackberries, as there was quite a sharpness, so maybe some rowan berries or something similar in there too.

I’m amazed how much difference there was between the 27 year cask and the 28 year cask versions, but then I suppose each cask is different and it’s not as simple as just an extra year. I liked both versions and I’m not sure if I would prefer one over the other. I think the 27 year might just edge it for me though, but only because it was subtler, slightly more rounded and oh so ridiculously drinkable. That doesn’t mean this version was bad, far from it, it was excellent. The intense fruity berry flavour, lingering long after the last bit of liquid had slipped, languidly down my throat was joyful. I wait with baited breath for this years instalments, all three of them…

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