Tennent’s Whisky Oak Beer: A Heavenly Match of Beer and Whisky?

Tennents Whisky Oak Beer
Tennents Whisky Oak Beer

Two of my favourite drinks come together in Wellpark Brewery’s new Tennent’s Whisky Oak beer. Find out if it’s well worth a try.

Back in the 1500’s, The Tennents were a simple family of farmers who brewed beer in Glasgow. By 1797, the family’s Wellpark Brewery were exporting to the Americas, satisfying the thirsty Scottish lads in the New World. Soon thereafter, Wellpark became the largest exporter of ale in the world. That was then.

Now, their footprint may not be as grand, but they hold a 30% share of the Scottish beer market. I guess that’s impressive, considering how discerning the Scots probably are about their beer and spirits.

Tennent's Whisky Oak Beer. The masculine bottle design that contains a gentle and lovely brew.
Tennent’s Whisky Oak Beer. The masculine bottle design that contains a gentle and lovely brew.

Tough Home Crowd

Discerning drinkers are loyal, as long as they get the same ale they’ve been enjoying for hundreds of years.

On the other hand, the same drinkers who cling on to tradition — and bar counters — may breakout battle axes if they were served new-fangled beers such as Tennent’s Whisky Oak beer – a hybrid craft beer. Its Master Brewer, Keith Lughton, admits that the Whisky Oak Beer is a tough sell back home. That’s understandable considering how Scots wouldn’t mix their beloved whisky with ice, let alone beer!

Innovating tradition is dicey and requires a brave heart.

Profoundly Promiscuous Palate

Just as the Tennent’s looked for growth in the New World over 200 years ago, Wellpark Brewery, today, looks for growth in the emerging markets of Asia. According to the Conor Hardy, the Commercial Director of Asia Pacific, Wellpark chose “Singapore to be the launch pad of Tennent’s Whisky Oak in Asia because it is a mature whisky market with a growing appetite for specialty beer.” Or, in my words: We drink lots of whisky, and we are profoundly promiscuous when it comes to beer.

Romance of Beer and Whisky

When I first heard about a “Scottish beer, delicately paired with single malt whisky and toasted oak”, I was immediately enthralled. Ah, two of my favourite things in life – beer and whisky – in holy union!

I envisioned Scottish beer and single malt Scotch settling in huge oak casks while the seasons does its magic somewhere in the verdant Scottish countryside, where kilted-men herded Highland cattle under the brooding overcast sky.

It’s a very romantic notion. Unfortunately, it’s a fictional one.

[quote]

I envisioned Scottish beer and single malt Scotch settling in huge oak casks, while the seasons do its magic, in the verdant Scottish countryside, where kilted-men herd Highland cattle under the brooding overcast sky.

It’s a very romantic notion. Unfortunately, it’s a fictional one.

[/quote]

Spoiler Alert

Keith Lughton, being a very practical sort, explains that virgin oak chips are soaked in strong Speyside single malt. The strong alcohol content is essential for extracting flavour from the virgin oak.

Then, like large tea bags in hot water, bags of whisky-infused oak chips are mixed into the beer vats releasing their flavours. An additional 60 litres of whisky tops-off every 50,000 litres of beers, making the finished product.

Proof in the Tasting

Master Brewer delivers the inside scoop on how beer is married to whisky
Master Brewer delivers the inside scoop on how beer is married to whisky

Though Keith’s description is true to the process, I think, my description is metaphorically true to the taste.

Tennent’s Whisky Oak beer is a clear, light golden beer with a small, off-white head. The aroma is honey/vanilla. The taste is sweet with hints of honey, vanilla and whisky. It is smooth, soft, light to the palate, and gently carbonated. Overall, it’s a very pleasant and lovely experience.

I wonder if this isn’t the type of flavour profile ladies desire – sweet, smooth, honey, and vanilla. No bitterness. Plus, the soft carbonation will appeal to Asian ladies who avoid very “gassy” drinks. But that didn’t bother me. I’m man enough to admit I enjoyed it.

However, I did wonder why the beer wasn’t cold when served. According to Keith, it’s best to drink it at about 6 to 10 degree Celsius to release the full flavour. Very reasonable. But, I would have preferred it crisp and cold, for a refreshing, chill in the mouth, perfect for our tropical heat.

Like the Scots, discerning Singapore drinkers are just as particular. Cheers!

By Frank Young

Tennent’s Whisky Oak Aged Beer is available at the following outlets in Singapore:
The Rookery, Skue, The Good Beer Company, The Library, The Papa Shop and Cook n Brew.
Recommended retail price is $16-$18 per bottle.

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