Let us go from Black Label to Brora.
There’s nothing left for someone like me to say about Brora. Let me quickly bemoan the passing of the time when Diageo’s special releases hung around for years, and even the 6th release of Brora 30 could be found easily for another 3-4 years for less than $300, and then let’s get right to it.
Brora 30, 6th Release (55.7%; 2007 release; from my own bottle)
Nose: Minerally, very slightly farmy peat with a hint of gunpowder. Softer, sweeter notes waft up from below: toffee, apricot, marmalade, plum—all married with that flinty note. A little bit of shortbread, a little bit of gingerbread—basically, I’m getting slightly spicy baked goods. With more time there’s some dried orange peel and some leather and a bit of mustard. Gets more briny as well. With water there’s some almond oil but also a faint butyric note.
Palate: Leathery, gunpowdery peat at first which explodes into first sweetness (apricot) and then brine and mustard and coal smoke. Nice oily mouthfeel. Much more peppery on the second sip with the smoke turning sooty. A lot more citrus too—orange at first but then it gets brighter (lemon zest) and the smoke gets more mustardy/briny. With water it’s both sweeter (orange) and more peppery; and more leathery too.
Finish: Long. The briny, sooty notes linger and then the fruit comes back turning more citrussy as it goes. Water makes the finish even longer and saltier.
Comments: Great whisky indeed but, frankly, it’s nothing so transcendentally good or unique as to make me wish I could have afforded to buy more of this or others in the series. Most of what I like about this I can get from older Talisker. But wait, older Taliskers are also becoming more and more prohibitively expensive and/or diluted. Now I’m confused.
Rating: 91 points.