Brora 22yo 1981/2004 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt #1561, 611 bottles)

600Post number 600, so lets break out something special. Special for me is Brora. Sure Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, they all are Cohiba’s, but Brora is Trinidad. Brora is extra special (to me). 600 is a round number but it’s not 1.000, 10.000 or even a million. It’s 600, so I won’t be reviewing a 1972 Brora, which for me is the pinnacle of them all. The 30yo OB from 2004 contains lots of 1972 Brora, so look at that review how great 1972 Brora can be. Back to this Signatory bottling from 1981. In 1981 Brora was in production, obviously, but were all over the place. Some expressions are full of peat and some are not. I wonder if this one has some peat to it…

Brora 22yo 1981/2004 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt #1561, 611 bottles)Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Fresh and vivid. Definitely Sherry, but in no way funky. Quickly a fresh creamy and toffee note develops and only a mere hint of peat, just inhale vigorously. Needs to breathe a bit. Nice soft woody note, which sometimes take a turn towards old paper turned yellow. A bit dusty as well, (with whiffs of white peach). In no way dry. Quite spicy. I tickles the nose, and again toffee mixed with wax. Chewy would be the word. Mild yellow fruit notes appear, adding some acidity and yet more freshness to the nose. It’s not typically peach, white or other, but some whiffs come across as peach in semi-sweet yoghurt. The wood stays soft and is part of the fruity and creamy mix, instead of giving it a spine. Its nice overall, and does develop al lot, where initially it didn’t seem very complex. Hardly any peat at all and just a splash of smoke.

Taste: Thick, waxy and fruity. Definitely a profile we get from fruity Speysiders from the seventies. Nice soft wood. Toffee, without being very sweet. It has some fruity sweetness, but just the right amount. It has more than 56% ABV, but it’s still friendly. Not hot, nor burning my throat. Very drinkable. To my amazement, a lot disappears towards the finish and the finish itself is medium at best. Only in the aftertaste it starts to come apart a bit, fading out. Just the right moment to take another sip.

This one isn’t about the peat and the smoke, and the ruggedness of highlands, and sea storms after which you need warming. This one is for those moment you need an old Speysider, Bourbon matured, with lots of fruit and wax. Remember this isn’t from a Bourbon cask, but is from a Sherry butt. It has hints of peat and smoke. It’s a bit like the profile Benromach is going for today with the new 10yo and 15yo.

Points: 89

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Brora 23yo 1981/2004 (48.6%, Ian MacLeod, Dun Bheagan, Sherry Butt #1513, 336 bottles)

Hello November! Looking outside, this month seems to bring us damn close to winter. Here we have a bottle of Brora 1981 bottled by indie bottlers Ian Macleod in their Dun Bheagan range. Ian MacLeod have a few other brands you might know. The Chieftains Range or “As we get it” for instance. The company is also the owner of the Glengoyne distillery, which is one of my favourites. Go!

Color: Orangey Gold

Nose: Green. Sweet, a type of lemonade sweetness. Musty and wet tea leaves. Slightly sherried and a hint of plain oak. Green apples. Vanilla ice cream. Perfumy. Some more wet cold black tea leaves and dried grass.

Taste: Thick and sweet. There are the tea leaves again. Syrupy. Sherry. Nicely round and precisely the right amount of wood to give it some body. Nice warming and the sweetness remains for the finish. Chewy plywood. Not overly complex and dangerously easily drinkable.

Brora is my number one Single Malt Whisky. It’s fabulous stuff and when it’s bad, like this one, it’s still a whole lot better than many others. Once there was a time there weren’t a lot of 1981 casks around, but today the market is swarmed by these, and some are better than others. The casks from this range 15xx are all pretty different. Butts, Puncheons and even some Hogsheads. So there should be some difference. I’ve tasted about four of those, one of them a cask sample of an unbottled cask, and all are comparable in quality. Nice, easy drinking whiskies. Not very complex though.

Points: 87

Brora 30yo (56.6%, OB, 2004, 3000 bottles)

This one is Priceless. I remember the times these came onto the market since 2002, and I heard people boycotting these bottles for their price, then around 250 Euro’s. Well in the mean time, these are still around but only just. When the moment comes these are really sold out, those boycotters will shoot themselves in the foot, especially when looking at whiskies issued today and what you can get these days for 250 Euro’s.

Unlike Talisker, Brora was a frequent visitor of the Rare Malt series, and we all know the 1972’s to be spectacular. People are starting to pay almost 2000 Euro’s for a 1972 Brora from The Douglas Laing Platinum Series. And just have a look at the 1972 Rare Malts. yes these Brora’s are that good. But I will never pay such money for Whisky, but I did pay 250 Euro’s for this one. I tasted a few of these 1972’s and most of the 30yo’s from Diageo. I even did head to head tastings with Platinum 72’s and 30yo’s. This version from 2004 must be filled with a lot, if not all of 1972 casks! And it is unbelievable. Anyone telling you that the Platinums are way better, well its a matter of taste isn’t it, but you catch my drift. I’ll stop the rambling now, and let the Whisky do the talking…

Color: Full gold

Nose: Very good,no, perfect nose. Perfect elegant peat. Gravy, clay, tea and mint. This nose isn’t actually that far away from the equally legendary Brora 29yo 1972/2002 (59.5%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 240 bottles), just more subtle and rounded out (and that could be the difference between a single cask and a whisky made up of multiple casks). Yes, the nose is (near) perfect.

Taste: Sweet and ashy and endless depth. Great latent sweetness. Burnt toast. Very nice peat. Clay and milk chocolate. Cow dung (Yummie). Licorice, black and white powder. Just fantastic. Slightly sour wood in the finish but that fazes out, and the fantastic Brora returns to keep on lingering in your mouth. The taste it leaves in your mouth is very nice. Long finish.

Well, if there is any perfection possible, than in the top ten of those whiskies will be absolutely some Brora’s. It seems to me that there’s (and never will be) anything like it. It’s just that you think there must be the odd bottle of even better whisky around. A Springbank maybe, or a Port Ellen. Only this thought doesn’t allow you to give a 100 points score. So, the nose is perfect and yes there is some room for a better taste, therefore I score this Brora a measly…

Points: 97