tend to go big and bold for their anniversary brews, so it’s not
surprise that Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale is an 8% ABV take on a
style that’s known for being anything but a session beer. I’m not sure
if this was intended for extended aging (and, if so, what was to be
gained by doing so), though I do know that it still is a high quality
bottle I’d recommend all appreciators of complex, robust beers pick up.
I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 3/28/14 and was a gift from friends (thanks, Carrie and Josh!).
Appearance: Seemingly dark brown or black, but actually a deep shade of
ruby red. Body is actually clear upon closer inspection. Pours to an
average-sized, off-white, foamy froth which retains and laces fairly
Smell: Lovely fruit basket aroma; especially of red fruits: cherry,
raisins, and pomegranate. A general sweet malty scent but not too
Taste: I like complex palettes, though complexity without a robust
flavor to support it can be a little underwhelming. That’s what’s
happening here: plenty of sweet fruity/malty flavors, but without an
intensity to make them pop. Just like the nose, there’s a fruit basket
thing happening here: cherry, fig, rum-soaked raisin, pomegranate, etc. A
touch of alcohol lurks in the background giving it a bit of a cough
syrup flavor. Up front it’s slightly dry, which is also how it finishes
with just a faint smokey sensation on the finish. No peat per se, though
(which is actually not traditional for the style). I’ll bet this was
amazing when it was fresh, but after some cellaring I’m not sure it’s
Drinkability: Whenever I see “Anniversary” on a beer’s label I assume
it’s going to be a behemoth I have to share with a friend. And while
Highland 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale is easily considered very strong at
8% ABV, it drinks like something a little lighter. The mouthfeel is
thinner than I was expecting; no viscous, sticky sensation whatsoever.
Little to no alcohol presence. Aftertaste is quite clean, which is
surprising. On the bright side it is easy to quaff down and I had no
trouble handling an entire bomber solo.