Speaking of Highlands peat, here’s a Brora. While Ardmore is in the eastern Highlands (some would even say the Speyside), Brora/Clynelish is located in the northern Highlands, well north of Inverness (though not quite as far north as Wick). The old Brora distillery, shut down in 1983 along with so many others, is, as you probably know, in the process of being revived (along with Port Ellen). We stopped at Clynelish on the way to Orkney in 2018 but didn’t have time to do a hard hat tour of the Brora premises. Somehow I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity again. I also don’t think I’m going to have too many more opportunities to drink the whisky produced by the old Brora (which was itself the old/original Clynelish distillery) as it’s now all priced well above my pay grade. I have a few samples and one unopened indie bottle left and that’ll be it. So it goes.
This is an official release. It was the seventh, I think, in Diageo’s special releases of Brora, and the first and only 25 year old released in the series. From what I can tell it has a more up and down reputation than the 30 year olds released before and after it. I’m curious to see what I make of it or if I find it appreciably different than the 30 yo 5th and 6th releases that I have reviewed.
Brora 25, 7th Release (56.3%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Honey and a leafy quality make the first impression; behind those notes is citrus (somewhere between lemon and orange peel), and an herbal note. Within a minute some smoke begins to emerge (more farmy than peaty). Water sweetens and emphasizes the citrus along with the honey. There’s a toasted cereal note as well now along with some butterscotch.
Palate: The smoke is more apparent here from the get-go. Below it there’s mustard and cracked coriander seed. The citrus expands as I swallow. Very approachable at full strength and the texture is rich. As it sits there’s some bitter lemon peel. More lemon with water—sweeter here too—and some apricot with it as well; the leafy note is still here too. On the very last sips it’s almost limoncello’ish.
Finish: Long. The smoke expands as does the leafy note. With time and water it’s sweet fruit over the smoke here as well.
Comments: Well, I don’t remember who told me there was a big falling-off here from the previous releases but I don’t agree. Yes, it’s not as glorious as the 5th or 6th releases but it’s very good indeed. Like those, it’s quite reminiscent of older Talisker (the 25 yo before it stopped being bottled at cask strength). Anyway, this is almost certainly the last special release Brora I will ever review; I’m glad it was such a good one.
Rating: 90 points.
Thanks to Sku for the sample!