I’VE BEEN all over the pale and hoppy end of things lately, as you may have noticed; a natural consequence of my preference for this style of beer and the brief summer we enjoyed until recently.

Now we’ve been tropical-stormed into a premature autumn, I thought I’d get onto the dark stuff early. Alechemy made me glad I did; Panacea is their 7.5% stout aged in Speyside whisky casks, marrying the bright spice and of the latter with the rich treacle of the former. It’s not an original concept, but it’s one that rarely fails to make a delicious brew.

Pouring a flat black, a very thin ring of butterscotch head circles the glass but a head proper fails to materialise. Pretty darn opaque too, with very little sign of carbonation – it certainly acts like a strong stout.

Aromas of banana and walnut, rum fudge, and peanut brittle with a touch of orange essence whisper out of the glass, backed by a nudge of alcohol and honey.

The flavour starts with a sharp metallic lemon bite, devolving into ash and bitter toasted nuts, orange-blossom and sherry, with a sweet fruity whisky finish.

It’s surprisingly balanced with the sharpness moderating an otherwise very full bodied beer, and a peppery carbonation doing a good job of lifting the body, preventing it becoming too heavy.

A lovely nightcap, even in August.

Recommended by Rob McLeon, The House of the Trembling Madness