Royal Brackla 16, 1993 (Signatory CS)

I know nothing about the Royal Brackla distillery except that it is in the Speyside, is owned by Diageo Dewars and is one of very few distilleries that are allowed to use the “Royal” appellation in their name (the others, I believe, are Lochnagar and the now-defunct Glenury, but there may be more that I am forgetting). Its output is mostly fodder for blends, and when available as a single malt, is usually competitively priced. I was interested in this bottling because Binny’s has it discounted quite severely as part of their Spring 2013 sale. Luckily, a friend bought a bottle on spec, liked it and was willing to swap a sample. And so here I am.

This bottling is by Signatory, who, along with Gordon & Macphail, are probably the most ubiquitous of the independents available in the US. This is a cask strength bottling, but not from one of those sexy, expensive decanters that their regular CS range come in: this was bottled especially for Binny’s in a regular bottle with a hideous gold label, as is usual for all their Binny’s bottlings. But what counts is what’s in the bottle. Read on.

sigbracklaRoyal Brackla 16, 1993 (55.3%, Signatory, ex-Bourbon; from a sample acquired in a swap)

Nose: Sweet, almost cloying notes (honey?) at first; the cloying notes dissipate quickly and a (less) sweet, almost sweaty, malty character asserts itself; hints of wood spice as well which expand a little with time. After still more time a touch of lime joins the chorus. With a touch of water a brighter, candied sweetness emerges, along with that lemon note: some kind of baked goods with lemon zest. The wood spice doesn’t go away.

Palate: Sweet malt at first. Then some kind of mixed ripe fruit, certainly some citrus: a blend of sweet and bitter oranges, perhaps? Quite nice. With water this really comes together. No new flavours per se, but everything integrates nicely with some salt around the edges. Maybe some pineapple along with the citrus.

Finish: Not much development at first. Spicy, malty notes linger for a while. After a while, gets salty. With water, as on the palate: nothing new but everything forms a nice whole.

Comments: I had no expectations but this is really quite nice, and the palate, in particular, becomes quite lovely with water. If this is still available from Binny’s spring sale I am getting a bottle.

Rating: 87 points.

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