Whiskey can do wonders for beer. When you take an outstanding beer, such as Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter, and hand it too a great brewer, which would be Flying Dog, and barrel age it in oak whiskey barrels, you get the excellence that is this beer. I was impressed with the value of it. At $7 for a 12 oz. bottle, that's a bargain, considering some of the other barrel aged prices out there. And you can probably actually find this beer somewhere.
The barrel aged Gonzo had the gentle, smoothed over complexity you often get with oak barreled beers. It had a bit of whiskey and vanilla on the nose and a bit of toffee. The color is very dark brown, coffee-like. Its mouthfeel is rather creamy. On the palate, I detected a lot of vanilla, courtesy of the oak, some smokiness from the bourbon, roasted nuts, and a bit of rye and pumpernickel. The last thing you get on the finish is that vanilla definitely imparted from the oak barrel.
I would absolutely seek this out and have it again. At 9.5% it will age nicely. I suspect that an aged version will have an even more pronounced vanilla flavor with the understated sweetness emerging a bit more.
4.2 of 5 stars.