This beer, for me, should be a winner. I'm a bit of a fan of Innis & Gunn, and a big fan of IPA's. I especially like American IPA's, but I like the milder, smoother, maltier British ones (like this should be), too.
The colour of this beer is a bright copper - like you took the sheen from a new panel of copper, liquefied it, and poured it into a glass. A nice bit of head forms - a finger or so, and settles to a couple of millimeters. The slow carbonation in the glass keeps it up (and makes me think the beer may be a little viscous). There's a bit of webby lacing as the drink lowers.
The bottle says there should be some orange aromas from the hops. My first whiff smelled like the heart of every other Innis and Gunn - mellow vanilla and oak. After a minute or so, as I got the ol' blog started up, some really faint orange aromas did come into play - kind of like a Terry's chocolate orange (but without the chocolate, if that makes any sense).
The bottle tells the ol' story of IPA's and how they originated from storing strong beer in barrels with hops to keep 'em fresh during voyages between India and Britain. They say their version should have fruity flavours as well as the beer's usual oak barrel characteristics (this version was barreled for 55 days, by the way). Well, you know what? There are some fruity flavours. I didn't really expect there to be, from the smell, but there are. For the most part, though, it tastes just like the original I&G, with just a hint of some bright orange thrown in there.
It does, in fact, feel a bit thicker than a "regular" I&G (which I found to be a bit watery the last time I had one). The alcohol by volume on this is 7.7%, so maybe that's part of it. The feel is a bit odd, actually. It's kind of tangy on the sides of the tongue, and a little more wet. Up the middle, it's drier, with an almost chalky finish (maybe that could be whatever else is going on in my mouth... which is nothing that I know of... but who knows?). At the back, in the aftertaste, I can pick out just a hint of the alcohol, with a bit of stickiness. Interesting. I'd like it to be more uniform, or at least more refreshing or dry overall. The feel doesn't put me off, it's just a bit unbalanced, perhaps. The carbonation is fine.
Overall, it's just a slightly-amped-up version of I&G Original, with some faint, bright orange notes. It's a good beer, for sure, but I get a little disappointed in some of I&G's stuff in that it's all too similar sometimes. It's nice to have your signature traits, but there's something to be said for variety, too.