Dave and Ann gave me while we queued for the Great British Beer Festival last year. I've disposed of the Infra Red and the Granite, which leaves just this bottle of Æther Blæc 2009. I do feel a bit guilty leaving it this long -- the point of brewers giving out freebies is to promote their wares, of course, and this wasn't promoting anything by sitting in my attic for 15 months -- but as I said in relation to the other two: Dave makes a big deal on his labels about how his beers are best left to age so it's really his own fault.
Anyway, Æther Blæc is an 8% ABV stout that's had several months' maturation in a Caol Ila whisky cask. The recommendation (he's big on his recommendations, is Dave) is to serve at room temperature but this came out of my attic on a chilly day so my first sip was quite a cool one. The phenols jumped out a mile, delivering powerful and rather unpleasant disinfectant flavours and little else. Given a while to warm up, however, and it rounds out quite nicely. Yes, there's still a lot of that TCP thing. If you don't like peaty whisky you probably won't like this. But there's also bags of sweet creamy chocolate (Galaxy bars, specifically), some quite dry un-vanilla-ish oak and a proper tang of bitter green hops. The aroma is an enticing peaty one, offering a subtle prelude to the bigger flavours to come.
I can kind of see how this might mellow with even more aging, but it's still perfectly drinkable now. Cheers Dave.