Best buys | Shepherd Neame & Sigtuna 2014 Collector’s Edition Barley Wine

Best buys

Shepherd Neame & Sigtuna 2014 Collector’s Edition Barley Wine

After the excesses of the Christmas period I always reckon January drinking should be about quality rather than quantity with a small sip of something strong and flavourful being infinitely preferable to several glasses of something weak and bland.

Even though it’s generally considered a session drink I think that applies to beer too, hence my choice of this barley wine which I found when I was going through my beer stores and which I’m not even sure is still available.

For those who are not familiar with the style it’s a strong beer of at least 10%, designed for keeping - similar in style to a fortified wine like a madeira or tawny port

This limited edition bottle which was brewed in collaboration with Sigtuna brygghus in Sweden and aged in bourbon barrels is just luscious, deep amber-coloured, rich malty and slightly sweet - I’m sure I can detect some honey in there. It would be - as any barley wine would - a terrific match with cheese especially a strong cheddar or blue like Stilton or with a piece of old fashioned fruit cake like a Dundee - or as a nightcap though it's so intense I wouldn’t want much more than a third of the 33cl bottle. The 'drink by' date is not until February 2016.

Limited edition bottlings seem to be getting more popular - as they are with whisky ‘expressions’ - so you generally need to get in quick when they’re released. Apologies if you can’t get hold this one but it was so delicious I couldn’t resist flagging it up. Other barley wines would hit that late night spot too.

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