Orkney Skull Splitter Beer Review

The last beer review I gave you was for a brew that you’ll probably never be able to find.  I thought this might be a good one to review since it’s rather widely distributed, and rather tasty if you ask me.

Orkney Skull Splitter
The commercial description: Named after Thorfin Hausakliuuf, the seventh earl of Orkney, this reddish coloured ale has an intense vinous nose, is rich and satiny in the mouth with a long dry finish and deep rich fruity notes. Described as ’Satiny smooth in the mouth, deceptively light and dangerously drinkable.

My take:  In reading other beer reviewers, I’ve discovered there seems to be some confusion over what style of beer this is.  Ratebeer.com categorizes it as a barleywine, and Beeradvocate.com categorizes it as a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy.  Regardless, either style makes my top 5 favorite styles.  Another point of interest is a little debacle back in 2008 when the Portman Group, an alcohol watchdog group, raised some objections over the “overly aggressive” name.

When I first poured the beer an oakey aroma immediately wafted up from the glass. I also thought I smelled vanilla, but it was gone so fast I wondered if I had imagined it. As it warmed I was also able to detect sweet caramel malt and a sour fruity note.  It’s a pretty brown beer with a slight garnet tint and a small off white head.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I was going to review this beer and didn’t think to take a picture before I drank it.  Sorry, I guess you’ll just have to go find you own.

This is a solid tasty beer, not for the faint of heart. If you’re a fan of those weak commercial lagers (my husband), this is probably going to be a little more than you’re willing to handle.  The flavor is robust, full of dark caramelized sugars from roasted malt, dark fruits (fig, raisin, prune), smoky earthy peat… maybe charcoal, and some sort of tangy fruit. On the tongue the beer was smooth, silky, and medium to heavy bodied. Like many brews of this variety, the flavors change and evolve as the beer warms.  I have a couple more bottles, and I won’t be surprised to discover more flavors lurking in the depths of my glass the next time I drink it.


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