As I mentioned earlier, this week is Feis Ile on Islay. If I had any sense of planning, I’d have got hold of some Islay Ales, but instead I’ve raided the cupboard for something suitable.
This is Brewdog’s Paradox Jura – a huge 15% Imperial Stout which has been aged in Jura whisky casks. Jura is the neighbouring island to Islay, and joins in with the Feis Ile so it doesn’t feel like too much of a cheat!
It looks pretty much jet black in the glass, with a thin, very fleeting tan head which was gone before I picked the camera up. It probably looks flatter than it is because the beer is so dark, so opaque that you can’t see the bubbles further in from the sides of the glass – a quick swirl certainly frees up another brief head.
The nose is surprisingly subtle; lots of sweet chocolate malt, a hint of alcohol that certainly belies that 15% strength. There’s some rich vanilla in there too, and just a hint of the wood from the whisky casks which serves to lift it above your average Imperial Stout, and give you a hint of what’s to come.
The taste is anything but; sticky sweetness on the tongue which leads into a rich, dark plum fruit as it spreads through the rest of your mouth. There’s burnt sugar and molasses, and throughout it all there’s just enough carbonation to keep things from getting to sticky and it manages to leave your mouth surprisingly clear.
The wood and the alcohol still manages to keep in the background, until the tail – as the sweetness fades with the carbonation, the whisky steps up and gives you a magnificent, lingering heat. It’s a very strange and effective combination, like drinking a regular Imperial Stout with a whisky chaser.
The biggest problem with this beer is that the bottle is only 330ml.