Brora 35 y.o. (2013) Review

Brora 35 y.o. (2013)110

49.9% abv

Score:  94.5/100


I know the thing to do is to play it cool and pretend we’re not too excited about trying these rare old drams, but that’s just not me.  Whisky is fun.  It’s supposed to be something to get excited about.  Maybe it’s gauche, but I’m tickled pink to be able to sit down and sip away at this stunning old dram.

Brora is one of the grail malts; those few legendary whiskies that form an intrinsic part of the ‘cult whisky’ phenomenon.  It’s a distillery that has been closed for more than 30 years and seems to have a remaining back stock only a fraction of the size of its fellow shuttered legend, Port Ellen.  Brora releases of late seem to be limited to the annual Diageo expressions, and unfortunately, the days of independent bottling appear to be behind us.  This probably has something to do with Diageo making efforts to buy back any existing casks sitting in others’ warehouses.  Just a guess.  Either way, what I’m getting at here is that any opportunity to sample a Brora is an occasion.

This 2013 official bottling is composed entirely of 1977 stock.  Its fruity, mildly waxy and smoky profile is Brora through and through, but seems almost restrained compared to some of the other Diageo Broras I’ve tried.  This is no bad thing.  If anything it shows an elegance that lifts this one even higher.  Possibly (probably) my favorite Brora so far.

Is it really that good?  No.  It’s better.

Nose:  Oh…dear…gawd.  A waxy and earthy backdrop.  Almost mushroom-like at first, before an explosion of softer creamy fruits.  Clean hay.  Yes, faintly peaty.  Also faintly coastal.  Pineapple and a bit of lemon.  Sweet, soft baking notes.  Some more semi-tropical orange fruits.  Vanilla cream.

Palate:  A little more farmy now.  Flinty and hints of oyster on the shell with a squeeze of lemon.  Peat and a little bit of dry smoke.  Licorice.  Make that salt licorice.  Pineapple again.  Threads of vanilla and oak.  A light toasted note.  Grapefruit pith and peel (but not so much the fruit itself).  Long, loooooong sweet finish.  Utterly magic.

Thoughts:  Holy hell.  I had high expectations, but they were not only exceeded, but blown away.  A great malt.  Simply incredible.  Limited to 2,944 bottles.

* Thanks to Andrew Ferguson at KWM for the hookup on this one.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

4 thoughts on “Brora 35 y.o. (2013) Review

  1. basidium

    Reading your posts daily…you are all over the map here. From a Dalmore crap 70’s to the top-of-the-line Brora….

    What’s a bottle of this cost? Do I need to rob a very big bank to garner a bottle?

    From a very lowest quality (used loosely) to top of the line….

    What’s the background and history of Brora? It seems to be the fantasy Scotch. Why on earth is it gone?

    1. ATW Post author

      Gotta mix it up. And playing to age-stated or vintage malts.

      Cost? Hmmm…retailed at just shy of four figures. Now double that initial price. Highly recommend Against robbing a bank.

      Brora was part of the early 80s downturn and ended up being a casualty. It was one of two Clynelish distilleries. The other still produces. Brora sadly passed on in 1983. Just not enough need for peated malts at the time, excepting those from Islay. As to the full background…thinking about doing a feature piece soon, as I did for Port Ellen.


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