I remind Colin what he had said back in 2014 at the Aurora Brorealis spectacular [TWE], that “this will probably never happen again“. That is, a line up of six Brora. ‘Probably’ was right.
Once upon a time, Colin Dunn was asked by a friend to pop down to the local shop in Leamington Spa to buy a bottle of 1972 Brora from G&M. Priced at a swashbuckling £35, it instantly became Colin’s favourite expression. Never before had he come across a whisky that had so enveloped his palate.
“I’m not doing this tasting for you, but with you”, says Colin. “Imagine the woman at the bakers who says ‘number one please‘”. And so we begin.
Brora 1972/2019 [47yo] Un-Ob. cask sample #990 40.1%
“Brora is a style at the whim of a blender” says Colin, who points ironically to the ‘No Financial Value’ sticker on the side of the bottle! “I hope I don’t sound like a salesman but Brora #1 is 47 years old!!“.
- N: Dirty, fruity, a touch farmy, some sweet butterscotch, bready,…. I could go on. I hear there’s a number we can call.
- T: Farmy and solid/strong, possessing what Colin calls the ‘Brora burn‘. Soon enough the ‘burn’ retracts. With water, nah. This one is about the nose.
- F: Faint soot. A longer finish with water but with only slight additional action. Really faint truth be told.
- C: The abv tells us we really have come to the end of an era. If Aurora Brorealis was the pinnacle, this surely is the last stand.
Scores 88 points
One of our group has a sudden emotional outcry of ecstasy. Colin chips in with “Do you want a cloth? If you liked that, the next one is one of the greats.”
Brora 1981/2019 Un-Ob. [oloroso?] cask sample #1080 43.4%
Speedy legs like the first.
- N: More farmy than the first pour with some fruits, rice paper,.. It requires constant reviving in the form of swirling & strolling [“No shaky shaky” – Ralfy].
- T: Strange/unusual and very narrow soft-sharp sooty chimney cement-dry barley juice that now requires water to revive it. There’s a vegetal root heat into the finish. I find it a tad palate stripping.
- F: A waxy roof-of-the-mouth heat lingers.
- C: An unusual experience. Colin believes this has been bottled at the optimum time. “A classic” he says.
Scores 87 points
Colin tells us G&M bought and brought all the old stock of Clynelish to the world in the 1970’s, and this is that style.
- N: Sulphury eggy bread, some olive brine, ginger cake,…
- T: Is my palate shot or what? Who scheduled this tasting at the END of the day?! Bitter heather, metallic, dry and a little nutty. Though more succulent with water, it remains resinous but in an old yet rejuvenating kind-of way.
- F: ,…into coppery < raisins, caramac and some toffee, finishing a touch butyric & bitter.
- C: Underwhelming in context.
Scores 85 points
- N: Waxy farmy fume-y sulphury eggy bread. Boy I’m sensitive to sulphur today.
- T&F: This is not a sexy Brora and it’s so strong/astringent that I struggle to pick things out. I eventually find lime stone, barley, hints of oysters, more wet stones, earthy gunk.
- C: Brora isn’t quite firing for me today, yet as always, I attempt to remain objective.
Scores 88 points
More golden nuggets from Colin. Apparently Brora Rangers FC is his favourite football team. He tells us that when Brora closed the distillery, they donated the peat shed to the football team to use as a dug out.
Colin points out that 51.9% was the leave vote. True say!
- N: More savoury than the Rare Malts 1975 vintage with a little fruitiness, but again, it’s not the sexiest Brora around.
- T: Oh there we are: arrive, boom!,… and release. Delivers at full throttle with Indian-esque aromatic spices and a hint of farmy smoke – is all I wrote. Sustaining.
- F: Lime barley into dusty raisins, light citrus and more dry airborne farmy touches.
- C: Very decent if not the very best of the Special Releases. Same score as before as it turns out, so my palate wasn’t too off-kilter after all!
Scores 88 points
Comprised of 12 hogsheads, even Colin hadn’t tried this until today.
- N: More reserved than the others, this one wants drinking, simples.
- T: Starts farmy before the peat kicks, followed by brininess. A palate hold & release will generally bring out the best of Brora, though this expression doesn’t quite deliver that well-loved mouthfeel for me.
- F: Waxy savoury sour chew.
- C: It’s believed there are officially only 2-3 casks left to bottle. I imagine Diageo are holding out for a 50yo before checking out.
Scores 90 points