Brora 21 y.o. Rare Malts Review

Brora 21 y.o. Rare Maltsbarry's place pics 156

56.9% abv

Score:  92/100


Let’s do another Brora.  This time from the Rare Malts line released by Diageo (then UDV, I believe…or maybe just having become what is now known as Diageo?) back in the late 90s.

The Rare Malts line-up ran for a decade or so, from 1995 through 2005, before ultimately the decision was made on high to discontinue the branding and concentrate exclusively on the parallel annual releases, which were being bottled to similar standards and strengths.  The Rare Malts releases are now secondary market fixtures, highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs.  If the opportunity does arise for a taste, do try.  It’s like drinking a piece of history.

Whisky in its late teens or early 20s tends to fall right into a bit of a sweet spot for me.  There’s just something so vibrantly alive in Scotch within this age bracket, yet at the same time they tend to be sophisticated, complex and able to wear the years with grace.  This Brora is no different.  In fact, it’s a shining example of just that.

Any contemporary releases of Brora (while few and far between) are now hitting the shelves in their early 30s, sue simply to the fact that this Highland distillery was mothballed (and subsequently partially cannibalized) in 1983, a solid three decades ago.  Having gone through a couple of the more mature variants recently, it seemed about time to look back a little and see what this distillery can boast of in its younger incarnations.  As it turns out…quite a lot.

This particular release is cask #2758 from 1977, and it’s a different kind of Brora.  Lighter and sweeter than I’d expect.  There’s a home-iness about this one that rings true and rockets it up my list of favorite drams.  Very clean.  Very defined.  Great personality.  It makes me think back to farmhouse kitchens (and yes…when I was wee I did spend a LOT of time in ’em), with a profile hinting at back-to-the-earth farmy characteristics well met with the pleasant memories of home baking.  While those are my immediate olfactorily driven connotations, it ignores the fact that this is a hefty dram at nearly 57% abv.  That should tell you that, while I refer to it as ‘pleasant’ and ‘gentle’, it is certainly not one for the faint of heart.

Great whisky from a distillery we miss very much.*

Nose:  Orange and nutmeg.  Some lovely cherry notes and warm leather.  Fresh hay.  A little peat, yes, but surprisingly tame here.  Soft, gentle and beautiful.  The comfort of warm caramel pudding.  Wonderfully sweet and balanced.

Palate:  Smoke now.  Grainy and farmyard-like.  Citrus tang and some fruit skin flavours and feel.  Anise.  A whiff of eucalyptus.  Bold delivery belies the softness of the nose.  Gorgeous.  Simply gorgeous.  I would think this was older than 21, to be honest.

*Do note…last I read the stills and such were still in place.  One can only dream of a Lazrus act, no?


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

2 thoughts on “Brora 21 y.o. Rare Malts Review

    1. ATW Post author

      Straight from the lair of the beast. Maltmonster’s sagging shelf at home. He had it next to some Glenmorangie Ealanta, Ballantine’s 17 and Old Pulteney 21 which he swore were 10 times better than anything ever distilled in history…except for the Edradour 10.


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