Last Best Brewing and Distilling A.E. Cross Barley Wine Barrel-Aged (2016) – American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 45 IBU

Last Best Brewing and Distilling A.E. Cross Barley Wine Barrel-Aged (2016) American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 45 IBU (C$19.95 at J. Webb Wine Merchant, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 30-Apr-2017, reviewed 20-Oct-2017)

Appearance: clear deep amber with a short fluffy light beige head, good retention and sticky lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee, dried fruit, rye whisky, wood. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, medium bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

So, this vintage was split into two, a barrel-aged version, and an unoaked version. I previously reviewed the unoaked version, which I described as fairly well-implemented, and observed the big ABV to be well-integrated. But, I found the aromas and flavours to be muted, to the point of verging on boring. I expressed the hope that the barrel-aged one addressed that, as well as my intent to find it. Well: tah-dah, I guess? And, yeah, I dunno if it’s the barrel-ageing, or just the nine months more cellaring, but this one is actually better, by a pretty emphatic margin. The woody notes meld well with a boozy whisky character, both of which arguably make the alcohol more noticeable, but doing so in an integrated and appropriate fashion. Some much-needed complexity is thereby attained, making this much more enjoyable than its Plain Jane sister. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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