My Christmas Day was a rather relaxed affair, this year. Less of my already-smallish family was in town than usual, so things were toned right down, presents were waived entirely, and my sister and I spent a good few hours taking my niece / her daughter for a bike ride and a muck-around in the park. The flatmates were also out of town, so I came back into the City late at night to feed the Cat and treat myself to some nice quiet time with a good beer and a good book. I paired this, one of BrewDog’s ‘Paradox’ series of whisky-barrel-aged stouts, with Surface Detail, the newest book by the equally-Scottish Iain Banks — who himself had basically introduced me to whisky with an earlier (non-fiction) book of his. The hot summer day had turned into a crisp and clearish night, and Catface (evidently happy to have company) plonked herself nearby on the deck and just mooed at me occasionally, as she does. It all went together bloody marvellously; a fine present-to-self.
Malthouse had imported two of the other ‘Paradoxes’ the previous year, and the contrasts among them are a staggeringly awesome testament to the richly varied world of Scotch — each is aged in barrels from a different distillery, and the stout is absolutely transformed in unique and well-worth-finding-out ways. The ‘Smokehead’ version (with somehow-varied whisky barrels suspected to be from Ardbeg) tasted appropriately enormously of smoke — somehow glorious, righteous smoke, like you’d get standing nearby the burning houses of your enemies, I said at the time — and the ‘Springbank’ edition was just propelled into all-around massive flavourful heights, with all sorts of lovely richness biffed in at speed and with purpose.
This one was comparatively ‘confronting’ — really quite a full-on spicy nose to it, with borderline-concerning funky edges that defied pinning-down. It’s a deliciously and seriously complex kind of a thing; something of a fight to get to know properly, but damn well worth it.
Verbatim: BrewDog ‘Paradox’ — Isle of Arran 25/10/10 10% @ Home. $10+? [Actually $15] from NWT. Out on the deck, with the latest Banks book, which seemed apt. We loved the Paradoxes at work, so I had to get this. Very different. Smokehead was righteous fire; Springbank was enormous lushness, this is actually quite confronting. There’s a funky, feisty tartness to it. Spicy, gingery, rough woody. The ‘funk’ in the nose is almost off-putting, but you’re rewarded for getting past it. Not that it’s a struggle, but the clangs on a few alarm bells get ready, at least. Hanging out here with Catface makes for a very civilised end to a nicely understated Christmas.