I first heard of Traquair House from Boak and Bailey's excellent Brew Britannia, in which it is used as an example of an early microbrewery. The eponymous Traquair House Ale has been brewed since 1965 and is now widely exported and hailed as a benchmark example of Scotch ale. It's a style I like in theory, but rarely crave, and as such this bottle has been repeatedly nudged to the back of the cupboard for several months.
I'd be repeating myself if I said that it smelt of treacle and plums, but it really does - this appears to be a consistent trend amongst dark-ish, malt-heavy, wintery strong ales, and is really quite inviting. Those flavours carry into the flavour, too, along with some raisins and cooking chocolate, and some caramel sweetness and warming booze are teased out as it warms. Like Brother Thelonious, yesterday's beer, it's light of body and low in carbonation with it. I don't mind that, but a less charitable drinker might describe it as thin, watery and flat. The main obstacle for me is a definite oxidised flavour - the bad cardboard kind rather than the pleasant dusty sherry kind. Oddly, this characteristic comes and goes; in some mouthfuls it's barely perceptible, in others merely a background irritation. However, at times it tastes like I'm drinking a ream of paper rather than a fine example of British brewing tradition, and it's hard work.
A dodgy bottle, perhaps? Or have I caught this bottle during an awkward adolescence - old enough to let some oxygen in, too young for the resulting flavours to smooth themselves out? I'd be curious enough to try it again.