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. Continue reading
This is not the bottle for the true sulphur-sensitive or the sulphurphobe. I’ve had it open now for a few years and the notes of sulphur, which were muted at first, have expanded a fair bit. The sulphur here is of the savoury gunpowder/struck matches variety; and I am in the seeming tiny minority in the whisky geek world that does not find this to be objectionable per se, and indeed sometimes quite enjoys these notes when in balance with others. All this to say that while I am not overly bothered by the notes of gunpowder here, I can see how others might dismiss this as a flawed whisky. I myself might not be very pleased if I’d paid an exorbitant price for it, but I found it a few years ago sitting in plain sight on the shelves of a local liquor store with the original price from the time of release still below the bottle. Or rather, the price tag was below an OMC Glenlivet bottle but the manager found the right bottle in the back (he was insistent that if they’d actually sold out of it they would have removed the tag from the shelf). Continue reading
Brora is one of the most mourned of the distilleries that have closed in the modern era. Its story is well known to all whisky geeks. In short: Brora was the original Clynelish distillery; superseded in the late 60s by the newer Clynelish distillery that continues to bear the name, the old distillery was at first mothballed and then re-opened to produce a peated malt for the parent company’s blends (due to shortfalls from the Islay distilleries). Fairly heavily peated malt was produced at Brora through the early-mid 1970s, and these distillates are the most prized. However, most of this stuff is gone or astronomically priced if you can find it. The stuff from the mid-late 70s also has a good reputation as do a smaller fraction of the malt distilled in the early 1980s before the distillery was closed in 1983 (along with many others). Continue reading