Brora 34yo – Diageo Special Releases 2017

Brora 34 Feature

What a week it’s been so far. And things don’t let up much at all… today we taste this year’s Brora Special Release. I’m a bit of a Brora fan boy, if I’m honest, and a visit to the distillery earlier this year only served to ensure I look at whisky from this distillery through ever more rose tinted spectacles.

A casualty of the 1980s closures, along with many others, it was deemed lost forever, despite much of the equipment still being in place, albeit gathering dust and bird shit. However, earlier last week I reported that Brora, along with Port Ellen, are to be brought back into production through a £35 million investment by Diageo, with the first spirit being produced in 2020. Massive news for the Scotch whisky industry. The history of Brora is a long and winding road, but Serge at WhiskyFun has created a rather excellent subsection on his website dedicated to the recent history of the distillery. It’s absolutely worth a read, check it out here. The cult distilleries of Brora and Port Ellen have long been at the sharp end of Diageo’s Special Releases, and this year is no different. This Brora was distilled in its penultimate year of production, 1982, matured in refill American oak hogsheads and bottled at 34 years old.

Brora 34yo
1982 Vintage
Diageo Special Releases 2017
3,000 bottles only
51.9% ABV
£1,450 here

Nose: A touch of menthol and eucalyptus to start. Then there’s a real maritime edge, with wet sand and sea soaked leaves, followed by a waxy, creamy sweetness – butterscotch, waxed paper, marzipan, almonds, apricots, dusty lemons, and charred buttered crumpets. Some hessian sacks and an old tobacco pouch give more depth.

Palate: A minty start once again, before the fruit kicks in – mango, papaya, and apricot. Then there’s some vanilla candles, chewy raisins and sweet sultanas along with orange oils and some sweet leather. Some dry woodsmoke gradually builds.

Finish: Sweet, earthy smoke with waxed cricket bats.

Overall: Brora never disappoints. Like ever. The waxy, maritime notes on the nose are backed up with plenty of fruitiness, and the gentle smokiness gives this whisky a layered, elegant feel. Another stellar Brora appearance in the Special Releases, but for how much longer? Having been closed since 1983, the stocks *have* to be getting low. There’s only one cask on site at Brora now, filled in 1977 which is about 15% liquid and 85% air. Are there many more casks in central warehousing? Will we see it again next year? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, with the distillery due to reopen in the next 3 years, it won’t be too long until more Brora single malt whisky is created. See you tomorrow where we finish up this year’s Special Releases with some whisky from a wee silent distillery you’ve probably never heard of… Port Ellen.



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