About two years ago, Bacardi announced ‘The Last Great Malts’, and I was excited, as the range was touted as being presented with age statements, non-chill filtered and at 46% ABV, or at least this was the impression everybody got from the PR. Apart from absolutely scandalous pricing of the higher rungs of the ranges (£330 for the Craigellachie 23 and £300 for the Aultmore 25) all was well with the Craigellachie and Aultmore releases (with the Craigellachie 17 and the Aultmore 12 being my favorites of those ranges which were reviewed here for the Aultmore and here for the Craigellachie).
Then came The Deveron (Macduff Distillery), bottled at 40%, as was this range of the Royal Brackla. It almost seems as if Bacardi made a change in plans after the release of the Aultmore and the Craigellachie, “downgrading” The Deveron and Royal Brackla for “general consumption”, aimed at the Glenfiddich/Glenlivet crowd, while the former are geared toward the anoraks, although pricing seems to still be set rather high.
I’ll admit to being disappointed at this turn of events, as both Macduff and Royal Brackla are not as widely bottled as Aultmore and Craigellachie by the independent bottlers, and I was looking forward to getting some insight as to the distillery character they offer. I tasted an early working sample of The Deveron 18 (at 40%) and was not blown away, and found myself pretty underwhelmed by the Royal Brackla range. What a shame….
Royal Brackla 12 – Oloroso Sherry Finish (40% ABV)
Appearance: Gold, quick legs with a necklace dissolving into rather thick legs.
Nose: Malt and green apples, give way to wet cardboard and some floral notes. There’s some honey deep inside the nose with a vegetal and somewhat oily note.
Palate: Fruity with overtones of spice (black and white pepper), a hit of honey and a touch of citrus oil.
Linger: Short, with some honey on the tongue and spice high up in the gullet.
It’s OK whisky, but not much more than that. It definitely lacks the Aultmore 12’s depth or the Craigellachie 13’s character. I loved the Aultmore and wasn’t all that taken with the Craigellachie, but I have an opinion on it. The Brackla 12, I don’t. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s not memorable in any way.
I whole hardheartedly recommended the Aultmore 12, and I can think of quite a few friends who would really like the Craigellachie 13, but with the Royal Brackla 12, I have to recommend a bottle of Dewar’s 12 year old. You’ll save £10 and probably get some better whisky….