A Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy from Traquair House, Peeblesshire Scotland.
Pours a very dark, semi-opaque brown color with few highlights showing through in the light. The head is somewhat thin and light brown in color. This beer gives little away in it’s appearance and the opacity of the beer hides any active carbonation save for the meager head atop the murky brew.
The nose is a marvel. Rich and sweet, as a Scotch ale ought to smell, but the addition of copious amounts of coriander take this beer in an entirely different direction than almost any other beer I can think of at the moment, regardless of style. I can detect sweet molasses notes and maybe a touch of whiskey – Scotch whiskey, not bourbon, as there is almost a hint of peat here as well. Then there is the incredible coriander aromas dominating the nose from start to finish. A hypnotic beer to smell.
The palate is almost as amazing as the nose. Almost. The coriander hits you right up front, almost like an aggressively hopped beer might. This one isn’t aggressively hopped, of course, and maintains a consistency with the wee heavy style for the most part. I just can’t shake the overwhelming impact of the coriander here though. Not that it is too strong, but rather it is simply pervasive. Without the unique flavors the coriander imparts, this might be a basic, run of the mill wee heavy in most respects – just kind of malty and blah. With the coriander, however … wow. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this beer complex, but it is certainly very unique in my experience. I taste very little of the 8% ABV in the mouth. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was a much lower gravity beer.
This ale is substantially thinner in body than I expected it to be … it even looks much heavier than it actually is. A warm ale, but nothing akin to the “warming burn” you might get from some Scotch ales. The thin body betrays the respectable ABV and causes you to think you’re drinking a much lighter, smaller beer. Both wee and heavy, it appears. The finish is light, dry and slightly sour/acidic. The coriander won’t let you forget it is there and lingers long in the mouth. Never harsh, this beer is slick and surprisingly clean in the finish.
This is an incredible beer, in my opinion. Truly unlike any scotch ale/wee heavy I’ve sampled. I believe this beer is worth the price for the nose alone … I found myself sniffing it with startling frequency all the way until the glass was empty. Like any aromatic ale, the aromas blossomed as the beer warmed to ambient temperature. A little thicker, fuller mouth feel would be my only critique of this beer and this isn’t something I’d be wont to fight over. Mark my words, I will buy more of this beer. If you see it about, you should too. Excellent!