Saranac Single Malt Whiskey Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale | Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery

very good
15 Reviews
Saranac Single Malt Whiskey Barrel-Aged Scotch AleSaranac Single Malt Whiskey Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
New York, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by CaptDavyJones on 05-08-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 15 | Ratings: 49
Photo of utopiajane
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is mahogany. Clarity is excellent. Ruby tint. Malty nose with caramel. Not a lot of wood just an airy breath from it. Dark fruits, earthy, cocoa and peat . The bourbon is strong on the nose. No alcohol on the nose and nothing that reminds me of diacetyl.

Taste is a deep melding of mellow sweetness and a floral quality form the bourbon. Peaty with secondary smoke qualities. The wood seems dry to the palate and the caramel is very firm. It's like the taste of lightly burnt sugar. Deep and very rich. The bourbon in this is very prominent but well done so that the fullness of it's flavor is evident. The beer seems earthy like a tree trunk. Planted and rooted. The mouthfeel is full and I want to emphasize firm. Raisins , dried dark fruits. Hops add the perfect lightly herbal backnote. No alcohol on the palate at all just a friendly warming int he chest after the swallow. Finish is sweet but not syrupy. Superb! Dries out as it lingers malty.

Bold. Strong.

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Photo of Roguer
4.11/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brown sugar and caramel notes from the malt provide a strong base, but this brew is really all about the Scotch.

It presents clean and strong on the aroma, really dwarfing the base brew profile, but in a good way.

Translation to the palate is a touch disappointing after the aroma; here is where a stronger, more together malt base would have truly elevated this beer. As it is, the Scotch is enough to carry the day.

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

Bottle, labeled 10% ABV. Must be batch 2
Smells malty w/ hints of whiskey
Taste: Bready malts , very,very faint whiskey. dry oakiness
Mouthfeel: thin, slick, non imposing
Overall: underwhelming but worth $10 a four pack. As a HUGE fan of the style: this is not a replacement for Backwoods Bastard ( good) or Wulver ( very good). I wish another strong brewery like Southern Tier would start making a good BA Scotch Ale that is accessible on the east coast. BA Old Chub would be nice.
Saranac brews are always inexpensive, and taste that way.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sweet, Smooth, Creamy, Warming

Matt Brewing deemed it time again to play around with some barrel aging, a Whiskey barrel aged Scotch Ale to be exact. Right from the first sip the strength this shown though it never runs hot, mellow but thorough wood character from start to finish. Within all of this it tastes like we are drinking a loaf a bread, a true compliment for a malt bomb like this. Clearly they should be delving into this arena of “bigger” beer on a regular basis.

STYLE: Scotch Ale | ABV: 9.0% | AVAILABILITY: Rotating

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine issue #91 (Aug 2014)

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Photo of Pencible
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: This poured a cloudy dark copper with moderate tan head.
S: It smelled like nutty and earthy malt and sweet butterscotch, with some copper hops.
T: It tasted like sweet caramel and butterscotch, with some nutty malt and a hint of earthy heather and salt. It had a clean mostly sweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with some carbonation. Fairly thin body.
D: This was a decent scotch ale, but the single malt character didn't come through as much as I hoped. The scent and taste were good, but the body was a little weak. The finish was smooth with well hidden alcohol, so it was easy to drink. No need to age, or try more than once.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.19/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a tulip glass at fridge temps. I believe this is from 05/2014.

Appearance: poured a nice dark orange with some yellow peaking through the sides. There was some sort of a head but it dissipated very quickly.

Nose: heavily malty, cherry pie, strawberries and other fresh fruit, no hop nose at all, no barrel age smell either, fruity English Ringwood yeast aroma, maybe some DME from the brewing process to boost the gravity.

Taste/Mouthfeel: very smooth with a fair amount of carbonation, malt forward with some spicy hops in the finish, very drinkable for a 9% Wee Heavy. I do not get any barrel aging in this.

Overall: So, this is a pretty good scotch ale but I really don't get any barrel aging like it is marketed to be. I'm a fan of Scotch in general and I was really excited to see it used in beer. After all, scotch is distilled beer.

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Photo of Beejay
2.89/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

A: A dirty medium brown in color. A very full tan head.

S: Light caramel and bread. Perhaps a touch of orange peel in there as well. Something slightly earthy in there, but I don't get a lot of the whisky.

T: Bready, earthy and a touch of smoke. There is a little bit of a wood flavor, and a hint of whisky. There is an earthiness to this that doesn't really mesh well. There seems to be a weird mix of flavors that don't necessarily go well together. Seems harsh and a touch bitter.

F: Medium light body, with a fairly dry finish.

O: Overall this seems like an odd amalgamation of flavors. Not enough of the whisky character to single malt in all caps on the label, the bottle says rich, malty, and sweet, and the beer I'm drinking simply does not go with that description.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%

A: [4.25] Golden color with a hint of red color. Forms a 1 finger head - mostly dense tight bubbles with a few larger ones. Clearly lists ABV (9.0%). There is a date code that I can't translate. When the beer is tilted there is clearly alcohol legs.

S: [3.50] Smokey wood and toffee and caramel.

T: [3.25] I taste alcohol front to back. I taste some vanilla, toffee and caramel (these are subdued below the alcohol taste).

M: [4.25] This has a full body. It is smooth and creamy with no sense of carbonation.

O: [3.75] The alcohol is not hidden. It is front and center. This beer tastes like a a spirit more than a traditional beer. The alcohol hides the other flavors. I think there are definitely other Scoth Ales that I would reach for first.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%

Bottle purchased at Premiere Gourmet in Buffalo, NY.

Pours out a light amber, much lighter than I would've expected for a BA Scotch Ale. A small head forms, that descends into little islands of foam on top of the beer. No lacing.

Smells like peaty whiskey, caramel, oak, caramel, and vanilla.

I'm surprised how good this one tastes considering it's Saranac/Matt. It's not the boldest scotch ale you'll ever have, but it's still tasty. Smoky scotch flavors, with a bit of peat, sweet caramel flavors, oak, vanilla, and the smallest alcohol burn. The flavor is slightly thin and watery at times- this is Saranac, after all- but the flavors on each side of the slightly flat middle are really solid.

This one is fairly light bodied for a BA Scotch Ale, letting the flavor fall flat at times, but it's also very drinkable because of this. There's a very low amount of carbonation.

One of the best beers Matt/Saranac has put out, they're stepping it up just a bit.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark amber/copper color. The head is a finger high, with a pale yellow shade. Retention is okay, but the texture is amazingly creamy. Even better, a near perfect ring of lacing is left as the head recedes.

Smell: Aside from the rich caramel notes coming through, subtle hints of the barrel also appear. I'm picking up some oak, vanilla, and even a hint of peaty smoke. Saranac definitely played it safe with the whiskey quality, but I don't mind. Letting it warm up will bring some dark fruits to the table. Good complexity - surprising complexity, even, considering its Saranac - but it seems like it will be too sweet. Ah well, I'm enjoying this beer's nose.

Taste: Peat-laden notes jump out further than they did coming from the aroma. It starts with dark fruit flavors, but quickly the barrel takes over. Vanilla, oak, whiskey (or is it whisky, label?!), and a little alcohol appear closer to the back end. The whole thing - while far from bad - just seems a bit 'safe', while the base beer itself lacks punch.

Mouthfeel: Really dry - I'm really picking up a lot of the barrel tannins, and even a nice kiss of booze. Aside from some lingering sweetness, it drinks fairly easily for 9%. It doesn't really have the decadent richness I'd like from the style, though. Carbonation is soft throughout.

Overall: Not bad. Whiskey is shown off really well, while the beer itself stops just short of being glorified tannin water. Still, the base beer feels rather lacking. This whole 'safe' vibe is exactly what keeps it from being a great Scotch ale.

3.25/5: Solid enough scotch ale, but a bit boring

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Photo of brentk56
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear and brilliant copper color capped by a three-finger head; excellent retention and lacing

Smell: The influence of the whisky barrel is quite distinct in the aroma, adding a peaty/oaky tone to the caramel that forms the backbone

Taste: Caramel and grain flavors, up front, with the peaty/oaky tones appearing in the middle; after the swallow, the smokey Scotch whisky character builds in the finish, though it brings only a little bit of heat

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation and some warmth in the gullet

Overall: A very nice beer that keeps the sweetness in check; nicely done; I am curious that the label uses "whiskey" when it describes the barrels and "whisky" when it describes the flavor - I always thought that whisky was the Scottish spelling and but I am not an expert in such matters

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Photo of DrBass
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Saranac High Peak Series Single Malt Scotch Ale
with an ABV of 9.0%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass vessel.

This ale comes off as a very potent liquor and malt mix. Sharp and bold. According to Matt Brewing the brew is a single-malt, high gravity scotch ale aged in whiskey barrels from Scotland. To me (especially after letting the last part warm up) it tasted very much like I was drinking a fine scotch, bite and all, that was slightly modified by a hop-less ale to create a heavier feeling blend. Any typical ale qualities were void from my palate. But, the combination of whiskey and ale make for a delectable after dinner refreshment. One 12 ounce cupful is plenty for this brew.

The aroma held only the same smell as when one sticks their nose right above the lip of a well made scotch. There were no notes of hoppiness or other ale qualities in the fragrance.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this on draft at roast house in Frederick. Not a fan of Saranac but do buy their variety packs on quantity nights. Their making a big beer had me very curious especially a wee heavy which is a good style for me. Surprisingly good. I am rather surprised that they have a beer I can enjoy not just tolerate. Good flavor and hides the alcohol very well. Overall a quality beer from Matt Brewing, nice.

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Photo of Marko84
3.46/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

I should precede this review by stating my constant disappointment every time I try an FX Matt product.
But I do like this. Maybe the planet will start spinning backwards tomorrow.
Poured into trusty duvel oversized tulip glass. It doesn't pour dark, not even close to opaque. A deep amber color with no head that leaves no lacing. Smells only faintly boozy, and very sweet. Taste is sweet with no alcohol burn whatsoever, just the residual flavor of whiskey to remind me it was barrel aged. Not a letdown in terms of flavor, but a thinner mouthfeel and less bold than say, a barrel aged stout.
Staying safe once again, eh FX? Luckily it's $10/4pk, and at that price, a solid treat. Overall a nice example of the next super trendy style. This was cold when I poured it, and while I'm not expecting a journey through flavors as it warms, I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Cheers Utica, this is well done!

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Photo of fx20736
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought a 4 pk from Beers of the World on 5/23/14. Poured into a nonic, served at ambient temp.

appearance: medium dark amber. shortbread colored head. decent lacing.

smell: light whiff of caramel corn and a whisper of alcohol

taste: sweet, caramel, heat from the alcohol

mouthfeel: slippery, soft and silky.

overall: surprising offering from Fx Matt. Decent, if unexciting strong ale.

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Saranac Single Malt Whiskey Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale from Matt Brewing Company / Saranac Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 49 ratings.
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