Brora 40 Years Old 200th Anniversary 49.2% 1978
|Condition||In original Wooden Case|
Serge Valentin (93)
This one from twelve (12) American oak hogsheads. Love the nod to the year of foundation (1819 – hey, could we have the remaining litres?) and the fact that they have decided not to bottle it in one of those tasteless and often frankly ugly crystal decanters that make many people cringe and cry at airports and that are the despairs of any self-respecting cleaning lady. Colour: pale gold (hurray). Nose: oh, but it’s soft, even kind of light at first nosing. It’s true that 1978 is not 1977, which is not 1972. I know, a penetrating statement of the obvious, as they say. I do find notes of flowers (jasmine, lillies) and tropical fruits (maracuja, mangos) that, seriously, do hint at 1960s Laphroaig. Not a bad reference, is it? Other than that, I’m finding many smaller aromas, bandages, seaweed, clams, chalk, beach sand, half an olive, pu-her tea, fresh almonds, even a few drops of Meursault… Well, say proper chardonnay, although it would rather move towards some sharper sauvignon blanc over time. That’s the thing with an old malt that’s spent a long time in good ‘moderate’ wood, they get much more complex and elegant. That’s the word, it’s a very elegant Brora. Mouth: you would be forbidden for thinking this is Clynelish, because indeed it is very ‘Clynelish,’ even if rather on the citrus front than on the waxy one. It is perhaps even a tad fragile here and there (there’s a little tea-ish oak), but as soon as you open the drawers, you’ll find myriads of tiny flavours. Oranges, star anise, coriander, mint, liquorice, small berries, citrons and tangerines, chalk, fennel seeds, smoked eel, ex&@fc (sorry, that was Aston, WF’s chief mouser walking on my keyboard – I’m not joking!) and then lime, starfruit and green apples, and touches of sauvignon blanc once again. Pouilly-fumé. Finish: very fresh, long, rather on fresh marzipan, lime juice, beeswax - at last – with a peppery smokiness in the aftertaste, ala Talisker. Comments: I’ve mentioned quite a few wines in this note, which could be a little disturbing indeed, but I believe this wonderful, refreshingly un-oaked old Brora does share many similarities with some of the greatest whites, without being winey, not a bit of it!
Whisyfun.com; Angus MacRaild
Colour: gold. Nose: even after all these years the freshness and the coastal elements are what strike first. These kinds of leathery embrocations, sandalwood and crushed seashells with undercurrents of petrol, salinity, clay, heather honey and aged mead. This kind of nose is a paean to lightly peated whisky in my opinion, this beautiful diversity of layered aroma that peat breaks down into after many years is something you just don’t get with more heavily peated malts. Remains heathery and chalky but develops along lines of lemon cough drops, vapour rubs and hessian. Gorgeous, enveloping complexity that you can just nose for ever. Mouth: surprisingly full and still quite peaty. Again this rather herbal infused peat that seems to wed itself to the waxiness of the spirit - you could almost call it ‘Brora flavour’ in the same way pinot noir or mango are their own flavours. Harmonious, elegant and deeply complex spirit, one that still possesses impressive weight, texture and balance. There’s also a sweetness, warmth and leatheriness that alludes to some graceful old VT riesling. Finish: long, impressively salty, herbal, medical and showing this elegant leathery, waxy peat again. Comments: There are other undeniably more dazzling official Broras, and the price of this bottling makes these notes pretty much academic for most of us. However, it’s an irrefutable reminder of just how great this distillery and its varied styles of distillate was. There’s a freshness and a consistency of complexity across nose and palate about this whisky that would embarrass most other 40 year olds. The overall impression I’m left with is one of profound gladness that Diageo are re-starting the distillery. If they have the sense and determination to make something akin to this style again then that will be terrific news for anyone who loves great whisky.