At this time of year we’re probably asked more than ever where our Whisky is, and the answer is ‘just around the corner and down the second set of stairs’…

No, sorry, I got myself a little confused there, please allow me to start again. At this time of year we’re probably asked more than ever for Scottish beers – that’s right, that’s what I meant - as people start to think about gifts or consider what they want to take back with them to family and friends over the festive season to best represent where they have been for the rest of the year. Coupling that with the deluge of exceptional Scottish offerings that we have received in the last month or so, now seemed a particularly fitting time to lake a look at some of the best that we have to offer.

From brand new brews through fresh takes on old favourites to all time classics, hopefully you’ll find something to suit.

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Merchant City Brewing Co. Vienna Lager (£2.40/5.0%/330ml)

One of Glasgow’s newest breweries take on this darker lager style, a favourite of mine and one that is really under represented in modern brewing. It’s a great take, with good toasty malt character balanced out by the crisp bitterness of classic European hops. Unsurprisingly their ‘cooler’ IPA and APA styles flew out of the door, but for my money this is the best of their beers so far.

Tempest Soma IPA (£3.20/6.8%/330ml)

I’ve actually reviewed this one before, back when it was first issued as their Bomber IPA. However, apparently someone somewhere took issue with the name and now it’s back, rebranded (which I reckon can only be a good thing as the earlier packaging was far from their finest work) and resized, but still maintaining that sweet tropical punch balanced by bitter pithy grapefruit and a resinous pine note that continues well into the long dry finish.

Traquair House Ale (£3.00/7.2%/330ml)

Undoubtedly the oldest and probably also the most traditional of all of the breweries that I’ve been looking at this week, Traquair House have been making beer since 1965 and this is their classic take on a Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy. Toffee, caramel and dried fruit on the nose, no matter how many times I have this I’m always surprised by how light this is with all the sweetness and sugar that the aroma suggests. The flavour adds a little dark cherry and a light herbal note to the profile with just enough sharpness to balance out that sweet malt character. Like fruit cake (or indeed Christmas Pudding) in a glass, this is one of my absolute favourites for this time of year.

Windswept Wolf of Glen Moray, Port Cask Finish (£8.90/9.0%/330ml)

Taking us a shade darker before I dive into the pitch black of my final choice, this is another one that helps keep the cold out on winter nights. Rich ripe jammy fruit on the nose, with a little spicy stewed plum alongside the whisky and port that I was expecting. The flavour adds some chocolate malt character, putting me in mind of a Fruit & Nut, before a mouthful of juicy berries were balanced out by roasted bitterness and a little more spice in the finish.

Fyne Ales/De Molen Cold Brew Mills and Hills (£5.00/9.5%/330ml)

How do you improve on one of the best Imperial Stouts in Scotland (if not in the world)? Well perhaps that’s not possible, but adding a huge dose of cold brew coffee from Artisan Roast certainly makes for another excellent iteration. The original already had a good dose of coffee notes throughout, so this take just punches that up a notch, adding to juicy raisins, earthy malt character and a slight umami saline note on the warm spicy finish. So good!

DAVID WRIGHT