After yesterday’s Benrinnes 24, 1972, let’s go up one year of maturation and jump almost a decade ahead to 1981. Here is a Brora distilled just a couple of years before the legendary distillery shut down. The general consensus among whisky geeks is that early ’80s Brora is the least compelling Brora but when you’re dealing with single casks anything is possible. Let’s see where this one falls.
Brora 25, 1981 (56.5%; Duncan Taylor; cask 1423; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Dry to start, almost a bit vinegary, and then there’s some hay and other barnyard scents; also some tarry, almost acrid peat. As it sits there’s some tart fruit and the peat gets less acrid and more hot tarmac’ish. Okay, let’s see what water does. With a drop of water there’s sweeter fruit (a hint of peach?) and some wax.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but there’s more lemon here and also a mineral sweetness. That prickly Highland peat is in full evidence as well, reminiscent of an extra-peppery and “green” olive oil. Nice texture at full strength. More fruit here too with water—much sweeter now—and less of the peat.
Finish: Long. Gets more peppery as it goes and the citrus turns to bitter lime zest. Less peppery with water and the citrus is less bitter. Some soot at the end.
Comments: Neat this is a nice, austere whisky of the old-school but if this were the first or only Brora you had you’d wonder what the big deal is all about. With water it adds just enough fruit to the austere notes to give you a sense of how good Brora could be even towards the end of the distillery’s run.
Rating: 88 points.
Thanks to the ever-generous Sku for the sample! Yes, despite the pristine label this is a Sku production.