Spinning the bottle round, we see that Cairngorm have gone for the “wrap a big label all the way around the bottle” approach. Where the join would normally be, we are told in big letters “Brewed in the Highlands of Scotland”.
Further around, we get a clear rear label. White and red text on a grey background helping to make it even more readable. Surprisingly modern typeface though.
Because I know a some of my blog readers are searching for it, this bottle has 2.3 units of alcohol. Not that I care, but if that’s what you want to know, then there it is. One worthwhile addition is the full address of the brewery. Worthwhile because it’s good to know exactly where it comes from. This one is from Dalfaber, Aviemore, Inverness-shire.
The single main paragraph tells us everything we want to know. And some facts that I didn’t know. Apparently “Before hops were used for bittering beers, many different herbs and spices would be employed by the brewer to import bitterness and flavour.” And Blessed Thistle seeks to recreate just that. Amazingly, and possible uniquely, Blessed Thistle gets it’s bitterness from boiled thistles. Pale, crystal and chocolate grains are also in there plus some hops and ginger added late on. A malty ale is what we can expect. Apparently.
Into the glass, it’s darker than I expected. Dark, but not opaque, which looks good. There’s a creamy head there too, but it’s somewhat uneven. On the nose, it’s sufficiently complex to be an ale. It is overwhelmingly malty, but not to dark ale/stout or Leffe proportions. Quite pleasant.
The taste is complex enough as well. Bitter maltiness is what this drink is all about. Pushed to pigeon-hole it, I’d say it’s a bitter. The grains? They’re probably there in the flavour. The hops and ginger? They’re just about detectable too. The boiled thistle? It’s hard to tell really. Never having eaten a thistle, I wouldn’t know it if it was in there. It does however, have a sort of flowery, heathery, lightness to it. And that, could be the thistle.
As you work your way through the bottle. Trying to figure out what you are tasting, you won’t find it a challenge. The remarkable lightness and refreshing character of this ale makes it very drinkable.
To sum Blessed Thistle up then. I liked it’s unusual make-up of it’s flavour. It was more refreshing than many ales. I wasn’t so keen on how bitter it was, but I know many of you like bitter. If you do, you’ll want to try this drink. For me, it was a good, solid ale with something new, but not unusual enough to make it truly outstanding. That said, I can recommend you give this a try.
Have you tried Blessed Thistle? What did you think? Have you tried any other beers from Cairngorm?