This Brora 34 Year Old is the sixteenth of a limited series of annual releases. Only 3,000 individually numbered bottles from refill American Oak hogsheads and refill European oak butts that were filled in 1982.
A restrained Brora, with everything you’d want and hope to find in this legendary malt, finely integrated and smoothed out; the usual key-notes of waxiness and fragrant smokiness are much reduced, while the elegant taste also offers an uncommon and attractive note of Szechuan pepper.
Appearance: Deep gold, with good beading and slow legs.
Nose: At first maritime and mineral, with dried seaweed. Then waxed apples, damp straw, hints of honeysuckle and underlying touches of oily rags suggest a cider farm’s workshop in springtime. Spicier and slightly dusty tones of earth and browning leaves develop in the weightier, savoury centre, which shows fresh-peeled bark, turmeric and mace. There’s barley sugar and a hint of orange juice or tinned pineapple too, with travel sweets and green leaves, all on a faintly waxy base. The latter emerges more with water, as does the floral, herbal fragrance
Palate: The taste starts sweet, with only a little of the waxy texture for which Brora is renowned, so at first it’s sharper than you expect, with fruit, chilli and fresh-ground black pepper. As the heat subsides, fruity dark chocolate and soft barrell-char smoke appear, with damp oak, apples and aniseed. The heat slowly builds, as does the fruit. Water brings up the waxy texture, with spicy and mouth-cooling Szechuan pepper masked by chocolate, sweet grass and fruit sweets
Finish: Some spice in the finish, as earthy chocolate, barley sugar and aniseed slowly fade to leave sweet-spicy oak, tart apple and chocolate-covered delight, with a final quick burst of black pepper and sweet fruit.
Founded in 1819 as Clynelish by the Marquess of Stafford, soon Duke of Sutherland. Cost to build £750. This would barely buy half a bottle today! One of Scotland's earliest purpose-built malt whisky distilleries.
Leased to James Harper, then Andrew Ross and George Lawson –all local men. Sold in 1896 to Leith blenders, Ainslie & Co. "A singularly valuable property, as the make has always obtained the highest price of any single Scotch whisky" Harper's Weekly1896.
Rebuilt & steam power introduced in 1897. Closed during 1931-38, 1941-1945. Stills direct coal-fired until 1961. New Clynelish distillery built 1967-8 and after briefly working together, old distillery closed.
Old distillery re-opened in 1969 to produce a heavily peated “Islay style” malt for blending during a shortage. Now named Brora. Closed in1983.
As a big whisky, well suited to long ageing in cask; only very small stocks now remain.
The first Brora 30 year old won a Gold medal at IWSC 2003. A 25 year old bottled in 2008 won Gold at San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2009. A Rare Malts Brora 20 year old won the Trophy for Best Cask Strength Malt at IWSC2004.
In the 1860s there was a gold-rush near the distillery in the Strath of Kildonan, Scotland’s very own Klondike. Gold is still found there and permits to pan for gold are still issued locally today.