Just a week into the new year, and it seems like the right time to taste a Brora distilled in 1983, the distillery’s final year of operation.
In the picture from 1930, of course, is the Clynelish distillery, put out of commission in 1968 after the building of the new, modern distillery, after which the old Clynelish was to be retired, and indeed, was mothballed. But nature wasn’t playing nice on Islay, and a drought there meant that Port Ellen was unable to produce the new make needed to meet sales projections for the Johnnie Walker blends for the early 1970s. So the old Clynelish distillery was pressed back into service (initially named simply Clynelish II) and started producing very heavily peated whisky for four years, but by 1973 Islay distilleries were carrying their own weight, so peat levels at Brora were lowered back to “normal Highland” peating levels with an occasional heavily peated batch run here and there, but this stopped completely after 1980. So basically, the Brora produced in the late 70s and early 80s was very similar to the Clynelish produced across the road. I have not had a Clynelish from 1983 to compare side by side with a Brora, but that would be a great experiment if you have access to such liquid (and if you do, please don’t forget to invite me 🙂 )
This expression is somewhat reticent, and needs quite a bit of time, so it’s not a quick drink.
Brora 8th Release (2009), 25 Year Old, 2652 Bottles (56.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, slow legs peeling off a necklace.
Nose: Wax, honey and very light peat. Some fresh green leaves, an earthy note compliments some floral notes. After a while, some vanilla comes through.
Palate: Light and fruity, pretty vibrant, with a very gentle peatiness and white pepper. Not overly complex. A drop of water enhances the pepper and brings out a sweetish citrus note.
Linger: Spice and honey linger over a really light smokiness, with a spiciness down the gullet.
The 13th release was far better, it seems like that extra decade in the cask helped the spirit (although the 22 year old RMS was a total cracker). This expression isn’t overly complex, but is, nevertheless, classic and intriguing.
What can I say, wax and peat work….
The old picture of Brora was shared with me by Colin Dunn, and comes from the Diageo archive.