If you're going to go for a whisky and beer pairing what better than beer from the world's most renowned whisky island? Well as far as Islay's most famously distinctive offerings are concerned it doesn't really follow. Much as I love beer and whisky to accompany one another it doesn't necessarily follow that peaty whisky works - I find the peat overpowers beer so I usually enjoy a peaty dram as a stand alone (Bowmore Laimrig is the current peaty tipple of choice). So when I was wondering what to try and match my Islay Ales brace with Bruichladdich was the distillery I turned to; a distillery that offers a range of whiskies across the peating levels scale. I went for the 'Laddie Classic' Scottish Barley unpeated expression - one that I really enjoyed at a Bruichladdich tasting a while back.
First up was the 'Saligo Ale' which unfortunately was, I think, a bit past its best. It was still lively and smelled fine but there was a a sourness in the finish which didn't work on its own let alone with the honeyed sweetness of the whisky. The 'Single Malt' Ale was more like it; it was all about that malt, the yeast and hops taking a back seat to the point where it was almost like crunching malt in your teeth. There was a brief play on some peachy fruit on the palate and a chalky finish but it all came across as background accompaniment to that big maltiness which unfortunately renders it a little one-dimensional. As a pairing with the whisky I think the contrast was almost a bit too much; either the whisky was too sweet or the beer a bit too dry - nothing against either on their own but a bit too much of a clash to be as harmonious as some I've had in the past.
Perhaps not the most successful half and half pairing I've done, but since it seems that barrel-aged beers are popular at the moment I'll hopefully get to have a bit of a play around with more and set the record straight soon!
Both Islay Ales (Saligo at 4.8% & Single Malt Ale at 5%, both 50cl) came from Ales by Mail for £3.05 & £3.14 respectively. A quick google for the Bruichladdich and you can pick it up for less than £42, it's bottled at 50% abv.