The overriding character of Scottish export ale is sweet, caramel like, and malty. Its bitterness is perceived as low to medium. Hop flavor or aroma should not be perceived. It has medium body. Fruity-ester character may be apparent. Yeast characters such as diacetyl (butterscotch) and sulfuriness are acceptable at very low levels. The color will range from golden amber to deep brown. Bottled versions of this traditional draft beer may contain higher amounts of carbon dioxide than is typical for mildly carbonated draft versions. Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures.
Though there is little evidence suggesting that traditionally made Scottish-style export ales exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many Scottish-style export ales with peat or smoke character present at low to medium levels . Thus a peaty/smoky character may be evident at low levels (ales with medium or higher smoke character would be considered a smoke flavored beer and considered in another category).
Scottish-style export ales may be split into two subcategories: Traditional (no smoke character) and Peated (low level of peat smoke character)