The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged)
Deschutes Brewery

The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged)
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American Imperial Stout
4.36 | pDev: 5.5%
Deschutes Brewery
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged)The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged)
Notes: The most multifaceted liquid truffle ever fashioned. Dark cherries brined in light peat smoke and popped into the heart of a prune. Then drizzled with toffee and flamed caramel, crusted with white and green peppers, and dipped in honey infused molasses. This beautiful construction is then delicately coated with rich dark chocolate and finished with a luxurious coating of milk chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder and gold flakes. Served on a chard shard of oak with three sultanas and pieces of vanilla suffused marzipan.
Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 220 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Zythophile
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: 2016
Palate Contaminants: none

Super dark brown color that doesn't leave much room for description. Fine, dark brown head, but not much of it.

The smell is really nice. Vanilla right up front. Sweet prunes. A little smokiness, spicy molasses, and barrel. Good intensity for a stout that has yet to warm up all the way.

Lots of dark wood up front, and raisin is the dominant dark fruit. I definitely get some peat, too. There's moderate sweetness to start, but it fades away surprisingly fast. Bitterness increases toward the back. Barrel, too. Alcohol taste is present. Definitely a sipper.

Medium-light weight for the type. Good character, but more alcohol than I'd prefer, even for a thirteener. Carbonation is a little light. Aftertaste is the bitter smoke, although it's not overbearing.

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Zythophile from District of Columbia, Apr 19, 2020
Photo of ovaltine
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours onyx black with zero leakage on the edges, underneath a thick, foamy tan head. Absolutely gorgeous beer. The nose is filled with rich dark chocolate, cherry, and vanilla aromas. There’s a boozy note that I’ll attribute to the scotch barrel.

The cherry and dark chocolate flavors are front and center on the taste, and the vanilla smooths things out a bit, leading to a smoky, boozy finish courtesy of the scotch barrel.

I love the base beer, and this is better, IMHO. Exceptionally well done by Deschutes on this world-class beer.

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ovaltine from Indiana, Feb 29, 2020
Photo of Treyliff
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22o bottle poured into a snifter
Bottled 12/9/16

A- pours jet black with a one-finger creamy dark brown head that has good retention and leaves some lacing behind

S- aroma opens with cherry pipe tobacco, chocolate, caramel, toffee, black licorice, prunes and molasses. The barrel adds notes of honey, light peat smoke and oak. The complexity seems to increase as it warms

T- bold dark cherry notes up front, along with bakers chocolate, cocoa powder, pipe tobacco, prunes, raisins, toffee, black strap molasses, black licorice & burnt brown sugars. Mid-palate starts to bring out a subtle, but noticeable scotch note, adding subtle peat, floral honey and a hint of brine. The finish gives more dark cherry, chocolate and subtle barrel

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a slightly warming finish

O- as with most scotch BA stouts, with the exception of an Islay barrel, the barrel notes were subtle. However, it worked very well with the base beer, adding a nice honey sweetness and just enough smoke and salinity to be noticed

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Treyliff from West Virginia, Feb 09, 2020
Photo of BEERdedCharmer
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 variant opened January of 2020

Black as my ex girlfriends soul but with more warmth.
Chocolate. Caramel and toffee, right off the pallet. Wishing I had a vanilla ice cream sandwich to enjoy this beer with.
Mouthful is fantastic, and AbV has dropped over the aging period.
10/10 would recommend

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle. Thinly waxed bottle. 2016 vintage.
Black colored body. Tan head just stays around. A few spots of lacing stick to the glass, but most slide back down into the body.
Aroma is deep and dark. Dark roasted malts bring up chocolate and caramel. There is dark fruit hidden in the middle. The barrel wraps all in peat.
Taste is a swirl of dark roasted malt, chocolate, caramel, sweeter dark fruit like cherry and denser dried dark fruit, and the barrel. The Scotch barrel infuses all with peat and vanilla. Not bitter at all. Has a touch of black licorice.
Very smooth, more thick than medium mouth feel. Hides the high ABV% well; no appreciable vapors nor burn. Some supporting carbonation.
The denseness of the flavors really inhibits a rapid ingestion of the beer. Allow each sip to envelop the olfactory and tasting areas in order to realize the full depth and breadth of this beer. Quite a positive drinking experience.

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Photo of Best_Enjoyed_In_Texas
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Consumed 6/28/2019

Would I buy this again? Its a great beer, but Id only buy again if it gets bottled in smaller portions. The bomber is expensive and a lot to put down in a single sitting.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

15 months bottle aged. This was good. Quite good. I expected to enjoy this one less than the brandy variant, but was very pleasantly surprised. An improvement on a stout with the addition of that wet stone scotch characteristic that I personally loved.

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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington, May 02, 2019
Photo of brother_rebus
3.48/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

drank it in 2019. kinda soy sauce to start. actually got better as it warmed. still was missing elements it likely had back when. also little to no scotch.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - From the bottle, the beer poured a thick oily black color.

Smell - there was a definite smokiness from the scotch barrels. The alcohol content was somewhat evident.

Taste - The smokiness from the scotch barrels was evident. Thick chocolatey malts followed. There was a measured level of booziness, but it was not hot. The smokey after was very pleasant.

Mouthfeel - As one might expect from a Abyss, it was thick and oily.

Overall - I was surprised how much I like this, since I normally don’t like scotch. It had all the smoke of scotch, without the peat.

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Photo of brenn79
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle- Pours inky black with a medium mocha colored head that reduces to a thin blanket. Aroma is chocolate, barrel, leather, tobacco, a bit of dark berries. The taste is leather, tobacco, cocoa, milk duds, velvety smooth, alcohol is barely detectable, touch of berries, oak really drys everything out. Very tasty.

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brenn79 from Idaho, Feb 06, 2019
Photo of angrybabboon
4.19/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Consumed 1/16/19

A: Deep, dark brown - opaque - pours with a medium sized brown head that slowly fades to a few wisps but retains a medium-large collar

S: Nice balance between The Abyss aromas and Scotch barrel, the barrel does not dominate like some other Abyss variants - dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, lightly burnt and roasty notes, dark coffee, overcooked brownies - dark fruit and black licorice - nice notes of barrel, nice notes of Scotch, lingering booze

T: Dark and roasty with loads of chocolate - dark chocolate bars, semisweet chocolate, some notes of milk chocolate - fudge brownies, lightly burnt fudge, dark chocolate cake - dark fruit, chocolate covered raisins, notes of spice and some anise - cooked sugar and notes of molasses - barrel notes, with some wood, some nice woodiness, with some peaty Scotch flavors - touches of smoke - more Scotch in the aftertaste

M: Heavy body, carbonation on the low side of medium, very smooth, lightly oily finish

O: Wait, this isn't a Scotch ale?!

I've had the opportunity to have a multiple of these Abyss variants, and I've personally found them to be too barrel-heavy. Despite not being the biggest fan of Scotch, in general, I think this works oddly well. I would happily drink this again, if it is made again.

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angrybabboon from Massachusetts, Jan 17, 2019
Photo of zeff80
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, light brown head of foam. It smelled of booze, peat, smoke, chocolate and toffee. Sweet maltiness with chocolate and toffee. Smoky and peaty, too.

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zeff80 from Missouri, Dec 02, 2018
Photo of AyatollahGold
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pouring this beer dated 12/09/16 from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter glass this beer pours out chocolate in color with highlights running throughout until formed in the glass. It formed a half pinky width of caramel colored crown that didn't want to stick around too long and chose rather to just form a ring around the glass. (4)
The smell is burnt bitter chocolate mixing with earthy wood, molasses and dark fruit all backed by a somewhat smokey background. (4)
The taste comes in with an earthy soil like presence before turning to that bitter, burnt chocolate. Wood, dark fruit & molasses all still present as well and the smoke finishes it off. (3.75)
The mouthfeel is, I would guess, past it's prime, because it is rather flat with no carbonation bounce. Other than that, it's slightly smoky, earthy and dry. (3.5)
Overall, this was my least favorite out of the variants I had of the Abyss, but that does have some to do with the carbonation levels of it. I always enjoy that bitter, burnt chocolate in the Abyss and liked how this one had a slightly smokey presence tangling with it. While I would definitely drink this again, it wouldn't be anything I would search out in the future. (3.75)

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Photo of colts9016
4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I peeled the wax off the bottle and cracked the cork a mist of beer wafted from the bottle. The beer is 50 degrees and served in a tulip glass. The beer is a dark ale with a strong odor of Scotch. The pour of the beer produced a one finger head with fair retention. The head dissipated quickly leaving no head on the glass. The beer has the appearance of a high alcohol content probably past 10 percent. The head is velvety and airy and has a dark brown color. The color of the beer of the beer is SRM 36 a dark brown nearly coal black. The head did leave a velvety ring around the glass.

The initial aroma of the beer is this earthy musty aroma mixed with the sea. Additional aromas in the beer are anise, soy sauce, wood, vanilla, dark roasted malts, toffee, chocolate, grassy, medium roasted coffee, char, burnt sugar, Maillard reaction, and herbal.

The initial flavor in beer is earthy, wood, and dark chocolate. Additional flavors in the beer are anise, soy sauce, smoke, char, burnt sugar, molasses, toffee, grassy, herbal, coffee, vanilla, dark roasted malt, and alcohol.

The mouthfeel of the beer is dry, musty, and coating.

The body of the beer is full, medium carbonation, and a full finish.

The beer is dark stout aged in a barrel. Found out it is a scotch barrel. The flavors align with peat and smoke. The beer is thick and coating. The balance in the beer is close to equal. The harmony in the beer is a skosh off kilter for me. The beer has this roughness like a cowboy. A rugged beer but dangerously tasty.

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Photo of BurtStL6
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Dark as night

Slight very tan head

Super smooth

Better than the Brandy variation

I was super lucky to have purchased this 2016 variation from a liquor store in KC who occasionally brings out cellared beers

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BurtStL6 from Missouri, Jul 08, 2018
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For my 4,000th review, I pulled out this two year old aged Abyss variant. The Abyss was one of my very early omg beers, at the time it tasted like the best thing I had ever tried; I gave it a 5. I've got a few more favored stouts now, but The Abyss and its variants are an annual never-miss for me. This Scotch Barreled one is particularly anticipated and a natural for a significant review.
Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin brown head that dissipates to a ring around the glass with light lacing. Aroma of deep dark toasted malt, molasses, cocoa, unidentifiable dark dried fruit, oak a little oxidation and a hint of scotch smokiness. Flavor follows, with rich dark toasted malt, dark molasses, dates, cocoa, oak, a hint of cherry and mild smokiness. Finishes with a little more light tart cherry and Scotch revealed. Lingering molasses and dark malt. Nice medium bodied with moderate creaminess and good carbonation despite the nearly still pour. Alcohol wonderfully covered, very warming but no booziness. This has the wonderful, classic Abyss malt body that has been a siren call for many years. Sadly, the Scotch influence is very light. It is present and pleasant, but I'm a big Scotch fan and would have enjoyed a very assertive Scotch smokiness. But that's a minor quibble, because the base Abyss is great and a bit of smokiness fits in with the other rich flavors very well. It has aged very nicely and is quite smooth in its second year. There is a dilemma in choosing a beer for a significantly numbered review like this one: I've already reviewed so many of the available fine and anticipated beers. Fortunately, the barrel aged stouts present a never ending number of variants and hopefully there will be another fine one, many years from now, for my 5,000th review.

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LiquidAmber from Washington, Jun 11, 2018
Photo of Jeffo
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from rutger this past summer. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifter
Abyss aged 100% in brandy barrels

APPEARANCE: Opaque black pour yields a three finger, thicker looking, creamy dark tan head with excellent retention. Black body and no carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full cap. A splotchy wisp remains leaving lots of lacing down the glass as it empties. Good looking.

SMELL: Good stuff. Peated scotch, earthy notes, leather, dark chocolate, vanilla cream and some woody undertones. Lots going on and plenty forthcoming.

TASTE: Peated scotch, leather and earthy notes with some woody flavors up front. Booze and peated scotch at the swallow. Bold and lingering finish of peat, scotch, wood, chocolate, sweet cream and caramel flavors with some earth and leather character to balance it out. Great.

PALATE: Medium-fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy and slick on the palate, goes down fine with a bit of a burn and finishes quite sticky on the palate. A touch of heat lingers.

OVERALL: Excellent stuff. This is even better than the brandy version, which was a treat itself. Usually scotch barrels don’t do it for me as much as other types, but this one is more-or-less done to perfection. The barrels are definitely there and there’s plenty of earthy peat character, but it’s really well balanced and the beefy base beer is still part of the show. Really good and well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the style. Thanks again rutger! Cheers!

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Jeffo from Netherlands, Apr 11, 2018
Photo of stortore
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 12/9/16, had 12/2/17.

Pours near black, opaque and thick looking, with a half inch quickly dissipating head of darker foam and some soapy lacing. Aromas of malt, scotch, cocoa, oak, toffee, raisins, some vanilla and figs, prunes, some peat, a little licorice, light tobacco. The taste is similar, but less fruit- malt, scotch, oak, chocolate, molasses, caramel, cocoa, some peat- especially in the aftertaste, some tobacco, light coffee. Smooth, a very good full body, well carbonated.

Great aroma, very good flavor, well developed in both areas. The scotch barrels are the star, peaty, but not overwhelming.

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stortore from Illinois, Mar 21, 2018
Photo of Lingenbrau
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

When you think of the most intense possible stout appearance, The Abyss should be up there. Scotch Barrel Aged Abyss fits right in its predecessors mould, pouring pitch black and sludgy right out if the bottle. It looks dense and completely empty yet clean. The darkest tan foam head sits on top for moments before receding into a fine creamy ring around the glass, and rivers of film across the surface.

This version is exceptionally boozey, even after over a year residing in its bottle. Booze, toasted oak, and chocolate are complimented only by an unrecognizable roasted dark fruit. However, as it warms, a subtle amount of dark roast coffee is able to penetrate the scotch boozey depths from below.

Each sip is more intense than the last. Burnt brown sugar, molasses, and heavily toasted white bread are most recognizable. Baker's chocolate then nutmeg and cinnamon follow along with an almost mild Chile like taste and spice. Sweet and smokey oak take the stage along with a slap of alcohol for the final bow.

The feel, in one word... Intense. About as intense as it gets. Slick, rich, full, and oily, followed by tingly, spicy, woody, and boozey, and finally dry and roasty. My lips feel like they are plastered in sticky syrup, and it almost hurts to separate them for another sip.

I have had a few Abyss variants now, but still feel the original reigns king. This might be the close second. It is so intense, and perhaps a little too boozey, but it's wonderful nonetheless. First time I haven't shared a bottle, and first time I'm saving the rest for tomorrow. Cheers.

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Photo of sjrider
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours solid black with tan head and moderate lacing. Nose is lots of roasty malt ,charred wood, peaty whiskey,vanilla and cocoa.Taste follows nose with more barrel influence. Viscous and chewy. Nicely done.

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sjrider from California, Feb 13, 2018
Photo of beergoot
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark depths within the body; topped with a decent thick and creamy light brown head. Heady, rich smell of dark roasted, charred grains; some whisky suggestion; cocoa and vanilla. Luscious flavors of bitter chocolate with some Scotch whisky. Heavy body; thick and chewy.

A rich and flavorful beer; continuing the reliable flavor profile of the Abyss' base beer with a fine sliver of Scotch whisky taste and heat.

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beergoot from Colorado, Jan 14, 2018
Photo of aleigator
4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours entirely black with a medium sized, dark brown head, which leaves back a thick layer of lacing. After swirling the beer, it reveals an oily, bubbly viscosity as an initial sign of its heavy body.

Offers a truly remarkable nose, which inherits an almost meaty characteristic, resulting from copious amounts of peaty smoke. Then there is the abyss typical blend of slightly spicy molasses and bitter chocolate, which get enhanced by a roasty maltiness and lots of char from the barrel. This peaks with a sudden appearance of honey, which gets highlighted and then swallowed by the barrel. This smells superb.

Mouthfeel is fuller, soft and creamy with a silk texture to it, finding a challenging antagonist in the extremely long lasting barrel, providing the tongue with a mixture of char, smoke and alcohol dryness.

Tastes sweeter than expected, with an early interplay between earthy toffee and sugary caramel, topped off by an untamed blend of tobacco and licorice. From this, the barrel arises in a truly uncompromising fashion, adding more earth, moldy wood, burned oak and salty campfire to the flavors. Once the barrel hits the tastebuds, it won‘t leave em till the finish, while creating a wonderful flavor intensity, underlined by skandinavian licorice.

Wow, I love the extravagantly impression of warming char in this. Usually Scotch barrel beers tend to suffer from an unpleasant tar characteristic which alters or overpowers the base beer. Thats not the case in here. In fact, the opposite happens, once heat, smoke, tobacco and licorice go hand in hand, a wonderful complexity unfolds perfectly balanced on the palate.

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aleigator from Germany, Jan 14, 2018
Photo of mjpolzin
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not a fan of Abyss. Had the Cognac barrel last year and although I liked it better than the base beer, it was a sipper that was very strong and boozy. I assumed the Scotch barrel version would be smoky and overly peaty. But this beer surprised me. It was fairly smooth and well rounded. By far the best version of Abyss I have had.

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mjpolzin from Wisconsin, Jan 01, 2018
Photo of Harrison8
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a finger of khaki foam. Head retention is fair with a few strands of caramel-colored lacing left behind. Aroma is dark, with roasted and toasted malts hitting first. Peat, oak, scotch, candied caramel, and molasses all add to the complexity of this beer. Flavor profile is peat, oak, and scotch. Caramel, and molasses sweeten up the back end of this beer, while deep, dark notes of roasted and toasted malts create a firm base. Mouth feel is slightly fizzy, but otherwise velvety and a thick consistency. Overall, a robust stout with hearty notes of scotch.

Served in a 12oz snifter from a 22oz bottle.

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Harrison8 from Missouri, Dec 27, 2017
Photo of JebBeerFish
3.62/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark Black, 1/4" on gentle pour.

S: I get some Scotch in the nose along with a typical RIS aroma.

T: Kind of a let down. While I understand that the taste of many beers does not live up to the descriptions, the taste comes nowhere near the list of flavors indicated on the description. The Scotch is a bit of a blunt force here, like a German Tiger Tank against a Sherman tank, easily overpowering the more delicate flavors. This beer has a year of aging on it, and either the Scotch was still too strong or the more diminutive flavors faded.

F: I found it thinner than regular Abyss, although that may have just been my impression, as I found regular Abyss to have many more flavors and many more interesting flavors.

O: I got this for less than the original retail price in a trade. I've had regular Abyss and thought it far superior. If you are a big fan of Scotch, you might appreciate this; then again, why not buy a decent bottle of Scotch [ while $27-ish won't do that, it might do 1/2 of that] and have many more Scotch servings.

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JebBeerFish from New Hampshire, Dec 16, 2017
The Abyss (Scotch Barrel-Aged) from Deschutes Brewery
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 220 ratings