I don't exactly know how long I've had this bottle, but I'm pretty sure my mate Rüdiger brought it back from the US while I was still living in Münster, as I seem to recall it living in the cellar there for a while. That''d put it at over 4 years. At something like 18% ABV, I always left it to one side, thinking to have it for a special occasion. You know, the special occasion that never comes up, so the bottle gathers dust at the back of a cellar shelf.
At the prompting of TheBeerNut ("get it down ye", which I'd not heard in some time), I threw caution to the wind and popped it during my week of "holiday".
Despite it's age, hop aromas exuded as soon as the cap was popped. It poured a clear, deep garnet, with a thick tan foam, and exuded rich, fruity aromas, suggesting mango sorbet, candied pineapple and hot caramel sauce, dark touches of plum mousse and hints of ginger spice.
Every sip revealed something new. While it started off sweet and fruity, it gradually yielded spicy elements, a ginger warmth, a cinnamon sweetness, then red wine tannic notes with autumn apples starting to decay on the ground. Then the heat comes. More spice, peppery and alcohol warmth. There's a bitterness, like warmed up grapefruit juice, but tempered by a sticky sweetness. Or perhaps it was the other way around. The finish is long and sticky, as expected, like having Seville orange marmalade on buttered toast with a cup of milky tea beside a pine-log fire.
I'm really curious what this is like fresh, but I'm just as happy having tried this with a bit of age. Sumptuous and very enjoyable.