That's my reason for picking up this bottle of Harrington's Big John. The label makes a suspicious comment about it being "brewed with a hint of Bourbon" which doesn't sound too appetising to me, but leaving it on the shelf wasn't an option.
It poured quite thickly but with lots of fizz too, the head settling an uneven ivory over a dark brown body, looking for all the world like an Irish coffee. There's not much going on in the aroma, which I find slightly strange for something so heavy and fizzy and with all of 6.5% ABV: maybe just a dry woody hint of fino.
The flavour is a bit on the understated side too. Dark chocolate is at the centre, surrounded by vinous notes that remind me more of a blousy Spanish red than any of Kentucky's finest. The finish is suddenly dry leaving lingering overtones of fusty wood; the mild funk of charity shop furniture.
Where Big John really shines, however, is in the texture. It's pillowy soft and provides a creamy comforting warmth. Flavouring a beer with whiskey, or anything else, can be a very easy way of making it undrinkable. Here, however, Harrington's have started with a beer solid enough to survive what has been thrown at it.
Good man, John.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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