While it is not well known outside of Scotland, Traquair House Brewery is actually located in that country’s oldest inhabited house. dating back to 1107 when it was used as a hunting lodge for Scotland’s royalty. The house is currently owned by one Lady Catherine Maxwell Stuart, 21st Lady of Traquair, whose family has been living there since the late 1400s and the brewery uses a copper kettle dating from 1738 as well as fermenters made from Russian memel oak to produce its beers.
The brewery’s website has a bit more on its history:
In 1965, Peter Maxwell Stuart, 20th Laird of Traquair came upon an extraordinary discovery in the eighteenth century wing of the house. A complete brew house and tun room had been left untouched for over a century and used as the family junk store. Having uncovered the vessels, cleaned and restored the equipment he decided to try his hand at brewing. Together with his friend Sandy Hunter, then owner of Belhaven Brewery, they came up with a recipe for a traditional “wee heavy”, the orginal Traquair House Ale.
First released in 1995, Traquair Jacobite Ale is an 8 percent ABV Scotch ale that is based on an 18th century recipe that includes coriander to give it “a remarkably fresh aftertaste.” The ale was first brewed to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, which was an unsuccessful attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to retake the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart. The ale is packaged in both 330ml and 500ml bottles and proved to be so popular that it was made a regular production release in 2010.
The Traquair Jacobite Ale pours a deep and murky burgundy brown with almost no head whatsoever, so it is not a surprise when there is just a trace lacing left behind a few minutes later. There seems to be a bit of particulate in the bottom of the glass and aroma from the glass is a combination of molasses, dark fruit, grains, creamy oak, vanilla and white pepper.
Starting out, the Traquair Jacobite Ale features a number of flavors all competing for dominance, including caramel sweetness, tobacco, earth, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. A creamy oakiness is present as well, although it only shows up every once in a while and is relegated exclusly to the front of the palate. The finish is not as sweet as I was expecting when the beer is cold, but the caramel sweetness does begin to become more prominent as it warms up. In addition, while the profile is light on the palate, the carbonation level is fairly high, despite the pour.