Hand bottled on January 15th, 2014. Each bottle contains hand written Gyle Number, two signatures from the Head Brewer and the following description at the top of the bottle:
Dark Island Reserve is a rich, strong ORCADIAN ALE. After a gentle fermentation at our brewery in Quoyloo, the beer is finished in old oak casks formerly used to mature fine scotch malt whisky. This unhurried process creates a timeless classic tasting of fruit, spice, oak & roast malt flavours. An extraordinary ale.
First off, thank you to John C. for the bottle-I had the pleasure of splitting this with several friends this past week and it was a hit. As my readers know, I love the idea of a bottle share, especially since the best part of sampling beer is to be able to do so with friends. Anyways, on to the review.
Served semi chilled from a 75 cL bottle and poured into a snifter. Pours a deep black color with no head. I poured out several glasses for friends as well and couldn't create a head on any of the pours. Smells were roasty and malty, with hints of dark fruits and whisky. Raisins, figs and plums were there as well as the burnt roasted malt. Carbonation was light with a full body. Taste had a chocolately backbone from the dark malts, with hints of coffee as well. The oak and whisky flavors were definitely there, but not overpowering. The fruits complimented the roasty and oaky flavors, and created an overall balanced taste. Aftertaste was mostly the whisky and oak, which I would expect from a cask aged beer.
Overall this was a treat to be able to try. A very complex beer aged carefully over the past 14 months. I've seen price points online and for the price I would prefer to buy several bottles of world class beers. However, I am thrilled I had the opportunity to try and will try to find another beer from this brewery.
91/100 Beer Advocate