Tullibardine 1488 Traditional Ale is a cask aged ale from Tullibardine’s brewery, aged in barrels from their renowned distillery. This 500ml bottle contains a medium bodied beer that weighs in at 4.5% ABV, making it less of a force compared to the Whisky Beer produced by Tullibardine. While this beer may lack the whisky wow-factor of other similar styled beers, its complexity of balanced flavors do make up for it; however, the cost makes this beer best as an occasional special treat as opposed to something to consume several of in one night.
This Tullibardine ale is named the Traditional for good reason: it is brewed like a traditional 90 shilling Scottish ale. However, the fact that it is oak aged, while adding depth and dimension to the flavours, makes it not so ‘traditional’. While it has a more robust malt backbone than Tullibardine’s 1488 Whisky Ale, the malt flavours are somewhat softened by the oak aging, leaving the malt notes somewhere between a fruity and creamy sweetness — this is not typical of traditional 90 shilling scotch ales, which tend to have a more profound flavour of roasted malt.
Because of this, it’s difficult to pin down this beer; it’s somewhere in between a typical oak aged beer and a traditional ale. In spite of this, the beer doesn’t suffer from overcrowding; in fact, the flavours are quite well integrated, balanced, and complement each other. It’s reasonably light, yet creamy and fulfilling; it has a malted sweetness that is subtly fruity, yet the oak/wood/whisky notes even this out; it has a medium-long length, yet is quite crisp — the finish remains consistent. All in all, the Tradition Ale is an enjoyable beer, inoffensive in any way, and well balanced; you could certainly have more than one, although your pockets would have to be quite deep!
Kamran: 81 pts.
Compared to the other Tullibardine 1488 sampled, the “Premium Whisky Beer”, this traditional recipe is much more successful in that it is well balanced in key areas. While it is by no means a heavy or strong beer, it boasts a variety of notes that can be determined from smell, taste and finish that are most certainly pleasing to pick up on. Served in a 500ml bottle, this beer is a rich chestnut colour with a light off-tan head. The nose is floral and fruity with a rich helping of malt, and a mild mix of vanilla and whiskey – the latter from the cask aging. The body is, as previously mentioned, lighter than expected yet constant with a pale ale. Not too watery, but certainly well carbonated. The taste was certainly strong in malt, possibly nutty in flavor, while it posessed a certain sweetness of vanilla or toffee to balance it from the malt and whisky. The finish of this beer was equally complex, certainly left a dry, almost bitter malty taste on the palate which softened into one where oak lingered the longest. This beer ranks highly in my opinion because it manages to keep all the ingredients from overpowering another, unlike the whisky beer produced by the same brewer. Unfortunately the only drawback is the high price for this beer, considering it comes in single bottles and is an import. It would seem then that this beer is best saved for an occasion that is special as opposed to a beer to have on a whim.
For someone, like myself, who is not a huge whisky fan, this particular Tullibardine ‘Traditional Ale’ blend is much more akin to my tastes.
From initial observations, however, it appeared this beer would fall flat. Greeted by a scent more reminiscent of a weak pale ale, I was concerned this Tullibardine creation would fall on hard ground, similar to their ‘Whisky Beer’. However, upon tasting, I was glad to find these concerns were not warranted. A rich, smokey flavour perfectly coincides with its dark, murky appearance that turns out to be very easy to drink due to its low amount of carbonation. With this strong flavour in tow, the finish leaves the drinker with a consistent hint of roasted malt, which may not appeal to some, but in the right amount can really add character to a beer that may otherwise lack an identity.
Although the scent does not send your senses jumping, the other qualities of this beer act as redeeming qualities, and its smoothness allows for an enjoyable experience after more than 1 bottle. However, for the price, there are certainly better options out there that can create a similar experience with a more unique flavour. An Innis & Gunn Original would be my preferred choice.
James: 79 pts
Final Average: 83.5 pts.