It never sucks to drink Brora. You could waterboard me with this stuff and I’d probably be okay with it. Ok…that may have crossed a line. Sorry.
We just reviewed a Clynelish, so how ’bout Brora? Sort of a VW/Audi thing. Or something. Unfortunately, I have less than a dozen bottles of Brora left in the bunker, so unless something drastically changes in the coming years, reviews of this Sutherland beauty are bound to be as scarce as oases in the Sahara. Recently, however, I had occasion to pop the cork on a special bottle to mark a celebration: I promised some mates that if Trump was booted from office I would open a Brora. I also promised myself a mental health break from the political divisiveness that seems be tearing civilization apart and a return to whisky jotting in my spare time. So…here we are.
Brora has a reputation, of course, but Brora also has a complicated personality. Not only are there some nearly impossible ties to unknot between Brora and Clynelish (especially in the earliest years of tandem distillation at the neighboring sites, but also between the more heavily-peated outings and those that are more fruit/wax/caramel-driven. I’ve had both. And both can be utterly dazzling. And, though it won’t put this conversation to bed, it will at least allow us to hit ‘snooze’ for a bit and return to this rather big subject later on. Let’s just say, I have my theories.
This 34 year old is one of the more restrained Broras I’ve yet tried. The nose, especially, is a wee bit shy, but the palate is much more expressive. If you’re chasing big phenols, you’re looking in the wrong place. But at 34 years, you’d be looking in the wrong place no matter which expression you were tasting. There’s a nod to the peatier years here, but it arrives like the fashionably late party goer. Albeit…maybe a bit more well-behaved, when all is said and done.
This release was a part of Diageo’s Annual Releases back in 2017, before they nixed the inclusion of Brora and Port Ellen in those outturns. It was limited to 3,000 bottles. 51.9% abv.
Nose: Little peat to speak of. But of course, there’s some wax. A touch of milk chocolate. Orange juice. Warm chamois leather. Incredibly soft fruit mélange. Apple pie (easy on the cinnamon and such). Putty. Even a faint hint of capers. Clay. An unlit Cuban, where the aromas are subtle and pretty.
Palate: Oh, wow. Juicy and mouthwatering. Orange and tangerine right up front. There’s a bit of smokiness come the mid palate, but it arrives with vanilla, melon and much more wax. Some more citrus, mostly lemon. Now we have some peat, by way of a slight earthy funk. A touch of blanched almond.
Finish: Clean and long. Some honeydew melon and deeply herbal notes.
Thoughts: Not sure why this one isn’t held in higher esteem than it is. May take a wee bit more concentration, but peeling back the layers shows just how elegant and layered it is.