Ale is not one of my favorite styles, but whenever I have a really good
example of one I’m always impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever actually
had a Scotch Ale from Scotland, though. I’d heard good things about
Orkney Skull Splitter, but I was a little disappointed to find that it
wasn’t quite the world class standout I was expecting. That being said,
it’s definitely a classic, to-spec example of the style. It’s just a
little more mild than I’d prefer.
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a goblet. It had a best before date of June, 2017 and cost $5.05 ($0.45 per ounce).
Appearance: Dark maroon or garnet color, but translucent. Pours to a
small, tan, frothy head which laces and retains pretty well.
Smell: Mild overall with dark fruit dominating and the faintest trace of smoke or peat; some alcohol is noticeable.
Taste: Scotch Ale has a lot of the same flavor profiles as Belgian Abbey
ales: dark fruit (especially dried fruit: plum, fig, raisin, red grape)
at the front with sweeter, more confectionery-like taste on the finish
(toffee and caramel, especially). Those flavors are all present in
Orkney Skull Splitter, but they’re surprisingly tame. Not much in the
way of hops, though the alcohol does account for a good portion of the
palette. I do enjoy the finish, though, as there’s a rum-dipped cherry
flavor that gives it a bit of a tang.
Drinkability: One thing I do enjoy about beers like this is just how
smooth and comfortable they are in the mouth. This is a thick beer, but
it’s incredible soft and yet in way cloying. At 8.5% ABV it’s pretty
hefty, and the alcohol does generate significant head – which is a
little distracting at first, but it quickly becomes part of the