Black Isle Brewery Imperial Stout

Black Isle Brewery Bar Inverness

Black Isle Brewery Bar Inverness

Cù Bòcan Creation #1 is an unusually creative collaboration, an intriguing mix which marries the best bits of its wine and beer counterparts; but what do you know about these counterparts? Last week we delved into Moscatel wine (read here if you haven’t already) now we’re exploring the world of Imperial Stout and the flavours stout barrels can impart onto whisky.

In January 1698 Peter the Great Emperor of All Russia, arrived in London. As part of his wider tour of Europe he sought to expand Russian trade and in doing so brought many new styles and tastes to Russian court. During his time in London, Peter developed a fondness for the traditional English porter and arranged for some be sent to Russia.

Named after the working class who drank them, porter was a relatively easy drinking style of beer with a small amount of highly roasted malt which imparts a dark colour and toffee like flavour. However, during long voyages for transportation, lower strength beers are susceptible to contamination, infection and, particularly problematic in the case of transport to Russia, freezing. In order to avoid embarrassment London’s Barclay Brewery increased both the hop content (which has preservative qualities) and the strength, to mitigate freezing temperatures.

This stronger, darker, more complex beer was labelled Russian Imperial Stout and became an immediate sensation throughout European Russia. However, war, revolution and changing tastes meant that during the 20th century the thirst for porters and stouts almost completely disappeared. The style may have been completely lost were it not for the craft brewing scene…

Images North Coast 500/ Black Isle Bar

In 2012 Black Isle Brewery, an organic brewery situated to the north of Inverness, produced their own Imperial Stout; it was the strongest, blackest, hoppiest beer they had ever made. But they weren’t content to stop there. Colin Stronge, the brewery’s head brewer at the time contacted us to ask if we would be willing to sell them some casks so they could add even more depth to the beer and of course we said yes on the condition that once the beer was bottled we would get the casks back.

The result was a beer with flavours of plum, liquorice, coffee, leather and tobacco with a sweet boozy finish. Once the casks arrived back at the distillery in June 2013 we filled them with Cù Bòcan that was originally distilled with malt peated to 15ppm in 2007 and filled into traditional hogsheads. Over the past 6 years they have added imparted notes of espresso, pipe tobacco and aged leather to the spirit, this was vatted together with spirit held in Moscatel Wine Barrqiues and Cù Bòcan Creation #1 was formed!

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