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The Red MacGregor - Orkney Brewery

Not Rated.
The Red MacGregorThe Red MacGregor

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

139 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 139
Hads: 220
Avg: 3.79
pDev: 15.83%
Wants: 14
Gots: 18 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Orkney Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (Scotland)

Style | ABV
Scottish Ale |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-09-2002

Red Macgregor is a unique beer: delicate and sophisticated yet the robust cask conditioned version of this beer was the first Scottish beer to win the BIIA World Cask Beer Gold Medal.

On the nose, this ruby-red beer is delicate, floral and fruity, with notes of violets, cherries, toffee and caramel.

On the palate, the fruits combine with a juicy malt character and hints of toasted malt, with a biscuit malt and spicy hop finish.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 139 | Hads: 220
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.14/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an almost opaque super dark orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, cardboard, chemical and spicy herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with watery cardboard, chemical, and spicy herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer with an mix of chemical and spicy herbal hop characteristics that make this one a bit difficult to drink much of.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of metter98
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark red in color and has a slight amount of carbonation along with a bit of particles visible floating in suspension. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that quickly died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of malty sweetness, caramel and floral hops in the nose.
T: The initial taste has a bit of malty sweetness and flavors of caramel--this transitions to a light amount of bitterness towards the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied, slightly smooth and a bit watery on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness in the finish.
O: This beer goes down very easily and is also very sessionable given its low alcohol content.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As far as English Pale Ales are concerned, I really liked this beer. It has the maltiness of an amber (caramel, toffee), with the hopping rate of a Bitter, and the cleanliness of an ESB. With that, I'm surprised this beer doesn't rate higher. The look is a rusty, sly-of-clear, densly headed appearence with nice low-key carbonation. Aromas of solid malts (barley malt, caramel, and sweet breads). Fruitiness is less than the malty sweetness, but shows in the forms of red apples, figs, and dates. The flavors closely reinforce what is experienced in the nose; with emphasis on the malts and earthy hop flavor. A mild nutty flavor increases as the beer progresses. The feel is a rich and full malt feel with creaminess (carbonation) and an unwavering firmness. Finishes quite clean without any abrupt vaporation, graininess, or bite. Overall, this was a very good beer. No flavors that knocked my socks off, but a solid Scottish brew that offers the best characters of that region. I will certainly have more of these in the future.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle.

This beer pours a clear, very dark ruby amber hue, with two fingers of bubbly, foamy dirty white head, which leaves some semi-consistent honeycombed lace around the glass as it duly abates.

It smells of mild, thin caramel and toffee malt notes, a soft pitted fruitiness, and bitter, musty noble hops. The taste is somewhat biscuity caramel malt, mild toffee undertones, acidic dark fruit - black cherries, mostly - a subtle metallic flintiness, and soft earthy, floral hops.

The bubbles are here, there, but not quite everywhere in their weak edginess, the body an adequate medium weight, and grudgingly smooth. It finishes just a wee bit off-dry, the biscuit malt holding fast, with the hops taking on a heretofore unnoticed tame spiciness, which goes a long way towards the encouragement of further indulgence.

A decent enough UK ale, but I can't forgive the stony edginess, as inoffensive as it is, taste-wise - as it still affects the whole mouthfeel, and general perception of the whole offering - a sour, kind of unappealing 'fruitiness', where I'm expecting big (sort of) treacly malt sweetness. Sorry to say, an Orkney concern has finally failed me, in the general, keeping up with the Joneses sense.

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Photo of oberon
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice rich amber color with a creamy looking head that settles nicely leaving some nice lace behind,aromas of caramel and dried fruit (cherries) and a nice subtle nuttiness.Taste is right on in my opinion nutty and deeply fruity with some caramel tones even a little vanilla flavor in the finish.A tad watery but that adds to the drinkability,a very well done Scottish ale wich it should be coming from Scotland,nice job.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.06/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Red MacGregor... isn't. It's more a dark orange-brown, tawny some would say. The dark cream colored head is firm with a furiously pitting surface and a stickiness that is proven by thick, broken sheets of pocked lace. The persistent, two finger cap of foam is keeping me from assessing the nose properly, but I'm a patient man.

This beer has an odd aroma and not an especially pleasant one. There's a sort of musty earthiness that reminds me of some sort of vegetable in freshly dug soil. I'm not sure which of the ingredients is responsible (probably the malt), but in the end it isn't powerful enough to be off-putting and is easily ignored. I'm done smelling it anyway.

The flavor contains the same mild unpleasantness, although, again, it doesn't completely ruin the experience. Red Mac is lightly malted and lightly hopped. What's left is a modestly sweet and sour flavor (unripe raspberries?) that I'm having trouble describing adequately.

The bottle is emptying quickly, not because I'm enjoying the beer, but because I'm trying in vain to get a handle on the way it tastes. I give up, let's just say that there's no way that this beer is a pale ale. A red ale comes closer to the mark. (Hell of a review ain't it? I bet you can practically taste the beer as you read the vivid, precise description of each nuance of the flavor profile).

The Red MacGregor is not a beer that I can recommend. Orkney brews some good ones, but this is definitely not one of them. Cool label though.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.57/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out mildly sweet flavors of caramel, dark fruit and molasses. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and there's a very mild hops presence providing a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, it's a fairly good beer overall but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Not sure of the availability of this in the US, but my father-in-law brought me back a 4pk from his trip to Scotland. This is pretty much an average Scottish ale, but with the distinction of possibly being the real deal: theonly one I've had that's actually from Scotland. I mean, I see Innis & Gunn on the shelves all the time, but it looks disgusting, so I've never tried a bottle.

Dark mahogany pour, looking nice, with a medium cap of off-white head. Toasty aroma, bready with a touch of smoke. In the taste, toasted grains, mild peaty smokiness, hints of candied fruit, dry grassy hop appearance in the finish. Body was about medium, with a pretty good drinkability for the style. An interesting beer to try.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown that is clear and shows some firm ruby tints to it when held to light. Nice crème head. Nose is nice levels of wood. Flavor is bitter but also has a unique earthy/woody tone to it. Lots of malts on there too. Feel has a good carbonation that gives a slight bite to it. Liquid is well bodied. A good drinker. Nice body, even and interesting flavor. Won't go down as the greatest ever of the style, but still good enough to give a try.

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Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle into pint glass, bottled on 4/1/2012. Pours fairly cloudy deep reddish copper color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, apple, caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, brown sugar, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, and earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of raisin, plum, apple, caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, brown sugar, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Slight earthy/peppery bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, apple, caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, brown sugar, light roast, herbal, light pepper, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity and robustness fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, and earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/yeast/hop balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy, and slightly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 4%. Overall this is a very nice Scottish ale. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

500 ml brow bottle purchased and consumed near St. Andrews, Scotland.
BB date stamp of May 2016 -- 1 year from now.

Clear red-brown body with a fine bone-colored head.
As hoppy as an Amer. Pale ale, but with a darker malt mix. Excellent hop/malt and bitter/sweet balance.

O: another solid and recommended offering from Orkney.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, crimson hue, solid, fizzy head of beigish foam, that surely disappears.
Aroma is fruity, spicy, but not very forward, suggesting malt, cherries, cinnamon.
Sweet and spicy on the palate, but, again, mild, ...almost lifeless, really...there's a flavor and a feeling, but it lies so lightly and speaks up so seldom, it's pretty forgettable. Easy to drink, yeah,...but, so what?
reminds me of Irish Red Ales, but not as full-bodied or malty...a bit too thin. sorry, I ain't feelin' it.

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Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an amber color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice sweet, malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a mild bitterness. The taste is good. It has a dry, yet sweet malty flavor with a bitter hop finish. It has a nice roasted taste that balances well with the hops. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a good English pale/red ale. It has excellent malt character as well as hop bitterness; a fine sessions ale.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My local Wetherspoons (like most) was having a ‘Scottish Week’ around the ‘Burns Night’ date and on 26th Jan 2012 I popped in and had a couple of pints: the second one being this fine beer.

First had Red MacGregor at a CAMRA festival (GBBF) many years ago: not had one since becoming a BA though, hence no review before.

Hand-pulled pint into a UK sleeve, the beer is a clear ruby red colour: on top a full head of foam, cream-coloured. Good lacing hung to the glass side as the beer level sank, the beer was in a good condition and you could tell.

The nose is a real mixed bag: malts and hops vying for attention, each coming to the fore and reducing again as the beer goes through the warming process in the glass.

The taste is also a fine blend of flavours: sweet malts and fruit/citric hop notes joined at the hip by a mini yeast presence that gives the beer that fresh and natural feel to it.

Easy drinking beer, the alcohol just about apparent although the mouth feel and body carry it nicely.

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Photo of Zorro
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear medium brown brew.

Smell is malt and dark roasted grains and smoke.

Taste is very smoky. Mildly sweet and medicinal in flavor, this tastes like a dry Scottish ale. Or a Rauchbier.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkable brew, tastes like a very mild Rauchbier.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Plonk in Canberra.

Pours a very pleasant ruby-brown colour, perfectly clear and pleasantly still. Head is a firm but minimal froth of off-white, giving a yellow tinge to the crown of the beer. Decent mild English-style lacing. Body looks pretty solid. Good looking beer.

Mmm. Nose is a pleasant mix of smooth, sweet malt, and mild roasted characters—it has a firm roundness like sweet coffee, mingled with some dark fruity overtones like overripe raspberries. Refined and extremely pleasant.

Taste is a lot lighter, although there are some pleasant toffee overtones, and a rich fruit loaf character towards the back, giving some buttery notes. The feel and depth are what let it down a little—although this comes at the quite considerable advantage of being quite fully flavoured while remaining at only 4% ABV. In fact, although the depth and fullness isn't enough to linger on the palate with a residing sweetness, the fruit and bread notes do stick around, giving a sort of faux-length to the beer as a whole.

Overall, this is impressive stuff. It's not really that remarkable on its own, and I wouldn't be so compelled by it if I was served it blind, perhaps—but I don't recall having a richer, more flavoursome beer at below 5% ABV before. This does a really good job for what it is.

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Photo of wl0307
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Revisiting the bottle version of Red MacGregor. This bottle comes at just 4%abv. - maybe due to a change of recipe? BB JAN 10, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: clear copperish hue, topped with a well-lasting dark beige froth that leaves tight lacing behind, on top of mild/moderate carbonation.
S: sweet orange, cherry+longan-fruits, creamy toffee-ish and brown-sugary malts, a touch of raisins, and lots of floral scent of hops... somehow, very sweet and dense in terms of the aromatic mixture of hoppiness and malts.
T: the sour-sweet juicy swallow of autumn-fruits is fast ensued by an utterly dry, roast tea-leafy bitterness on top of caramely+smoked-nutty malts... turning really chewy and bitter in the aftertaste with a dry-ish malty palate (as of well-toasted malts) as well as a touch of sweet coffee, while the fruity undertone reminiscent of dried longan-fruits, raisins, dried plums, and more dark tea-leaves lingers beautifully, consistently underlined by a mild sour edge. Brilliant aftertaste.
M&D: the mouthfeel could've been smoother if given a little less fizziness, while all in all the body retains pretty well throughout the drink. Despite being slightly too sweet on the aroma, the flavour presents a rather balanced performance and makes it really really quaffable as a well-hopped and very bitter fruity ale.

* Tasting Date: 16/02/06

500ml brown bottle, BB JUL 06. Served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.
4 A: dark reddish brown hue; effervescent, rocky and frothy off-white head slowly settling to a 0.5-1cm thick cap with very good retention; constantly fizzy body.
4 S: slightly apple-ish fragrant fruitiness upfront, on top of a more settled and rounded scent mixed of coffee-syrup, hazelnut, creme-caramel's caramelised sugary top and its creamy note.
3.5 T: lightly dryish smoked nutty+malty palate upfront, followed by a touch of lovely sour-sweet edge of a cup of herbal tea infused with a wedge of lemon; lightly tangy/tannic fruity and herbal flavour gradually prevails along with a lingering, dryish aftertaste of caramel maltiness and an interestingly crisp clean finish.
3.5 M&3.5 D: a ve...ry dry and mildly bitter-fruity ale it is, backed by the microscopic fizzy mouthfeel; the dryish edge makes this beer definitely a thirst quencher, while the residual nutty aftertaste provides a kick-back of maltiness in the very end. Pretty solid, albeit not as much exciting~~

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Photo of jdhilt
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Distinctive taste, somewhat smokey, hops and malt blend together. Said to have a flowery hop taste but I couldn't tell. A dark, reddish beer. Light carbonation, medium head. Clear 500ml bottle.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a deep reddish orange with a thin off-white head and lacing. Light sweet and toasted malt aroma. Flavor follows, with light sweet and toasted malts and caramel. Fairly subdued. Slightly sour and crisp finish. Hops kick in a little late to be well integrated. Pleasant, but not exceptional, probably largely due to the low ABV.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich, enticing amber hue with a crystal-clear body. Head is a thick finger of frothy tan foam. Very, very nice.

Smell: big crystal malt aroma with a good hop component which is both a little spicy and a little citrusy; not unlike Cascade hops, really. It's not bad, although the combination of crystal and Cascade makes me think homebrew in the back of my skull.

Taste: mildish crystal malt flavor with mildish, bright hop flavor. Certainly brighter than other Scottish ales I've had. Not bad but not really to my taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good, well-integrated carbonation. Good mouthfeel for something with this low of an ABV.

Overall: not a bad session beer, although as I said not precisely to my taste. I wonder how this stuff is on cask?

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours brilliant mahogany with a persistent, clingy 1” rocky fwhite oam collar – beautiful, very creamy, smooth and fluffy. Drinks clean and smooth with kettle sugars aromas and flavors.

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Photo of bark
3.1/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The colour is clear, deep red-brown; the two finger thick foam is semi-compact, beige and quite firm.

The smell is sweet, with a balanced blend of hops and burned malt. There are some totes of paperhanger's paste and bitter almonds.

The carbonation is medium strong (stronger than the average ale) with big bubbles.

The taste is quite complex with lots of burned malt and an almost chemical flavour of almonds (both sweet and bitter). I found it hard to describe this taste in full, but words like “glue stick” and “artificially flavoured cherry candies” came to my mind.

I suspected that they had put candy sugar in the brew making it ferment a second time (like many of the Belgian ales), but the label said “brewed from malted barley, hops and water”.

Anyway, the aftertaste is long with a soft bitterness and a taste of almonds and burned, sweet malt.

I found the beer surprisingly easy to drink, considering the odd almost chemical flavour. Not one of my favourites.

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Photo of Brad007
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a darkish-red color with a decent head of foam that leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

Hop aroma and smokiness of the malt greet the nose. A bit of sweetness to the malt as well.

Taste is mainly sweet and the smokiness of the malt shows through in the middle. Subtle, not overpowering. Distinctive. Hop bitterness towards the back of the throat keeps this from being too sweet.

Mouthfeel is a mixture of smokiness and bitterness. Smooth and even a bit chewy.

Very drinkable. At 5%, it could make a great session ale. I'm pretty satisfied with the quality of the offerings from the Orkney Brewery.

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Photo of ccrida
4.64/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle poured into my Samuel Smith imperial pint, The Red MacGregor is a bronzed chestnut with a tight, creamy eggshell head that leaves nice lace.

Smell is fantastic, and more eloquently summarized on the label better then I could muster, lavender, cherries, caramel. I also get some grassy, herbal hops and a hint of diacetyl.

Taste is also great, this is a really tasty ale, especially for only weighing in at 4%, much maltier then the nose, there's a spicy dryness, touch of roast, bittersweet, but with a lighter finish. There's also a nice earthy, slightly smoking ester to distinguish it from it's brethren elsewhere on the isle. A fantastic Scottish ale, especially for the often overlooked lighter end of the spectrum.

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth save for the spiciness mid-palate and lingering prickly tongue. Light-bodied.

Drinkability is fantastically high. I really love this beer, and am super impressed with how much flavor they got out of such a small, simple beer. The only chink in the armor is the cost, which is about $6.50-7 each! If it were a $40-60 case it would be great to stock up on.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber with ruby highlights and a small head.
Nose shows sweet, spicy fruitcake with extra helpings of all manner of dry fruit. And some added cognac and marmalade for good measure. Intensely fruity. Also some toasted sweet malt pokes it's head out later. Damn that's good.
Similar flavours but with more caramel and dough malt, along with a decent helping of earthy, resinous hops. Finishes slightly watery though.
Body is a little thing, I'd like something more syrup to go with those rich flavours.

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The Red MacGregor from Orkney Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 139 ratings.