North Coast – Old Rasputin XIV

Tasting: December 31, 2011
Style: Imperial Stout (Bourbon-Barrel Aged)

Old Rasputin XIV

I don’t particularly like champagne – it’s the carbonation that bugs me. Fizziness seems like an unnecessary addition to what is basically a white wine. I have a few bottles that I received as gifts on my wine rack and tonight (New Year’s Eve) would seem the perfect occasion to lessen my inventory by a bottle. But, once again, I’ll give it a pass in favor of what I hope is a world-class stout. I reviewed Old Rasputin just a couple of weeks ago. In case you missed it, I thought it was an interesting read about an interesting character (I’ve posted the link below). At the tenth anniversary of the first release of Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing released a limited edition bourbon-barrel aged version of their critically acclaimed stout. They followed with offerings at the eleventh and twelfth anniversary — but oddly skipped the thirteenth anniversary — maybe a superstitious thing. And now, we have the fourteenth anniversary edition — XIV. It’s a pricey brew at $20 for a 500 ml bottle. It kills me to pay so much — but that being said – I wouldn’t think twice about spending $20 on a bottle of wine for a special occasion.

This one has an attractive cork and cage presentation. I like the “Never Say Die” slogan on the neck — very apropos for Rasputin. This one kicks up the ABV from Old Rasputin from 9% to 11.5% and IBU is a robust 71. My only major criticism of Old Rasputin was that it was a little too boozy and the malts were too charred. We’ll see how the bourbon barrel and increased ABV factor in on this one. I’ve poured it a little on the cold side, so I’ll let it sit for about fifteen minutes. Over that time, I’ve been fighting the urge to take the first sip and have simply taken whiffs. I get some rich dark chocolate in the aroma. Finally, I can take a sip and I can’t really detect the bourbon barrel influences at least at first — just chocolate, slight roasted grains and undertones of vanilla followed up by strong booziness. As it warms further – the bourbon barrel comes in with an increased vanilla and oaky impact. Mouthfeel isn’t as decadent as I thought – still medium and it delivers some moderate stickiness.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed this one, it is too pricey and that knocks it down a few pegs for me. Still worthy of 92 points.

Read my review of Old Rasputin HERE

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