I had a chat with a relative recently about his fondness for The Orkney Brewery’s Dark Island, a beer I had never tried before. Shortly after, he had to visit the Orkney Islands for work, and took the opportunity to visit the brewery for a tour. He kindly brought back some Dark Island Reserve for me to try, which made me seek out the original Dark Island to sample too.
The standard Dark Island is a highly regarded dark ale, having twice won CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) Champion Beer of Scotland. It’s one of the nicest dark ales I’ve tried, being smooth, dark and malty with hints of dark chocolate, without being too full-bodied or bitter. At 4.6%, it’s not too strong either. It’s widely available in supermarkets at under £2 a bottle.
Moving onto the Dark Island Reserve, which is by far the most expensive beer I’ve tried, at a whopping £9.95 for a 330ml bottle (direct from The Orkney Brewery shop and online). When you taste it, you understand why it’s much more expensive than the standard version. At a powerful 10% alcohol, it packs a punch, which is probably why the branded glass only holds 1/3 pint. It’s definitely not a beer you’d glug pints of! Aged in oak Scotch whisky barrels before bottling, it tastes thick, rich and luxurious, reminding me of treacle. Have a small glass, sip, and savour!
I had previously tried Red MacGregor ruby ale back in March, one of the first beers I had tried since my teens. It wasn’t my favourite then, but having tried some more darker ales and expanded my palate, I think it’s only fair to go back to it for a second opinion next time I have the opportunity. Cheers!