Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Brora Distilled 1982 Bottled 2006

[43.0%・24 Years Old・Distilled in 1982・Bottled in 2006・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

White fruits, nougat and soft smoke, slightly vegetal and grassy with some mild citrus to round things out. In time though the nose carries this scent of crepes with lemon and sugar.

Palate & Finish:

Light body carrying citrus and grassy notes, a crisp and dry white wine note alongside the coastal undertones. Hints of tropical fruits drifting in and out.

Fading notes of honey and biscuits with white grapes and green apples.

Thoughts:

A nice dram that gets just a bit nicer in time, quite a pleasing nose really but perhaps just a bit on the thin side, even as a breakfast whisky, although who would complain about that sort of mornings really..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Brora Aged 34 Years (Bottled in 2017)

[51.9%・34 Years Old・Bottled in 2017・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 3000 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is held to a softened state, hint of floral to go with a milky vanilla note.  Moderate doses of waxed apples and tangerines and in time some minerals develop as does a light lace of smoke, gently floating atop traces of sea salt and turmeric.

Palate & Finish:

Quite a spirited delivery, led by citrus based fruits with ample of spices, vanilla opening up to honey and ginger flowers.  It’s quite lively indeed.  Perhaps a very fine waxiness in the background but it is not so evident.

Wee splash of salt and pepper carrying the gentle malt and mangos into a medium finish,

Thoughts:

A fine dram indeed, less complex than older releases but certainly quite lively at 34 years young, this one feels more energised.

☆ [Recommended]

P.S. Thank you to Mr. Simon McGoram and the rest of the Diageo and Leo Burnett Sydney team for arranging the tasting experience. It is much appreciated.

Photo Credit to Esmond.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Gordon & MacPhail Rare Old Brora 1978

Style: Sweet and Complex

Nose:
Beautifully dense honey and rhubarb jam on the nose. Peat smoke seemingly soft, but firmly weaved into the aroma. Dig deeper we come to another layer of honey, waxy, but more subdued with peppermint and dry mineral spices on the rise. Rose strawberry jam overtone and a few drops of lime juice.

Palate:
Impressively dense palate, another rose petal shower leading to a wave of baked lemon and stew fruits. A waxy, honey core unfolds while faint peat smoke slowly squeezing out from it. Butterscotch fusing into rhubarb jam. A slightly zesty, floral overtone. Heavier, sooty peat elevates, followed by black liquorice and vanilla cookies. Dry cereal malt takes over at the back, pinch of rock salt, finishes with a hint of smoked honey ham.

Finish:
Milk chocolate, orange candy coating around the honey core. Cereal note lingers, honey breaks free and overflowing for quite a while.

Thoughts:
Comparing the recent Original Bottlings, this is a relatively bold, straightforward Brora. Remarkably dense, a lot of flavours are tightly knitted together that you can feel it carries an unusual weight. Plenty of red fruit influence can be felt here so it might be a refill sherry cask (I just checked and it is actually first fill sherry). Incredible complex spirit just like other Broras, love it!

☆ [Recommended]

[46% • 2013 • Independent Bottling • Limited Edition • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Aged 35 Years • Lot Number: RO/13/05 • First Fill Sherry Cask • Closed Distillery • Sample Tasting]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Brora Aged 38 Years

[48.6%・38 Years Old・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 2984 Bottles]

Nose:

A lavish wave of maltiness, uncompromising with its oily goodness fully intact, arrives with sensational aromas comprising of sage, thyme and rosemary burning up in the background.  Of course this delivers that fine coating of wax, meanwhile it softens up and stretches on, revealing a comforting maritime breeze that carries soft vanilla grains.

Palate & Finish:

Gentle, satisfying, complex.  Yet it’s still empowered.  A waxy top note with the gradual evolution of the smoke lifting the veil of this beauty.  Coconut crisps and lemon peels with a generous dose of natural tropical sweetness that is cleverly contrasted with the clean dryness from the oak alongside subtle ashiness and coastal influence; cumulating into a finish that’s equal parts classy and dreamy, a profound experience that simply must not be hurried.

Thoughts:

Superbly selected and blended, may be it’s hard to believe, but I think we will look back and realise that this belongs in the same conversation with some of the other great Broras.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Brora Aged 30 Years Bottled in 2006

[55.7%・2006・30 Years Old・Original Bottling・2130 Bottles]

To me, a distillery is like a puzzle, with its various expressions like smaller pieces joint together forming a broader picture… and unfortunately due to my age I have never really quite made out what Brora looks like.

Luckily, bars like Auld Alliance are like archives of random puzzle pieces where whisky nerds like myself get to have our wildest dreams fulfilled,  and to put what otherwise would be missing pieces in their rightful places, like Diageo’s 5th Brora release from almost a decade ago.

Nose:

Initially the nose feels rather shy, there is a hint of milkiness followed by a dose of ripe fruits kept at a minimalist manner and a gentle grassiness in the background. There is perhaps nothing magical at first, but in time there comes the simmering fresh cream with lollies boiling simultaneously, all rather inviting. The earthy and grassy characters also grow more robust as the dram opens up.

Palate & Finish:

Seville oranges and coconut chips served with a layer of air-dried strawberry crisps stacked underneath, all the while there is the gooey lemony note that excels in richness. The continously growing sootiness in the background adds as a welcomed diversion to the intensity of the fruitiness, as the smoke and spices lift the oily nature of the dram.

After a rather extravagant delivery on the palate, the dram reverts back to a subtle but elongated follow through of grassiness nature, paired with notes of lemon peels and balsamic drizzled strawberries that dazzled.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Brora 14th Release Aged 37 Years

[50.4%・37 Years Old・Bottled in 2015・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

A 37 year old out of the 1977 vintage from the lost Highland distillery, I was lucky to taste this a while back at a tasting where Diageo’s 2015 releases was showcased.

Nose:

Crumbly whisky tablets upon a fine layer of wax and a slight citrus presence on the nose initially, it’s closely followed by the cowshed peat bringing in a lighter tone of fragrance with it, complimented by a light brush of café au lait and toasted coconut chips. The earthiness and grassiness come on the backend and it becomes rather savoury. The nose is certainly mouthwateringly enticing.

Palate & Finish:

A light entry of vanilla sugar and zesty orange on the palate, crisp and lovingly coated with just a touch of waxiness. It then grows savoury with the woody peat note bringing in the oiliness of the malt.

The maltiness eases gradually into a long finish of toasted cereals with the peatiness extending alongside the succulent bright fruits.

Thoughts:

The oldest Brora Annual Release yet, though it is a rather lovely drop, it seems pretty apparent that this would probably have been more impressive if it were bottled a couple of years earlier . I don’t suppose we will be seeing a lot of older, and more importantly better offerings from this glorious distillery..

☆ [Recommended]

Nicholas

Dram Review: Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Brora 1982

[40.0%・Distilled in 1982・Gordon & MacPhail Bottling・Limited Release]

How gorgeous are those legs?

Nose:

Barley sugar with a waxy undertone. A classic Highland dram that celebrates the lightness of whisky crafting back when times were simpler. Honey with a light hint of candied ginger, pear sweets with a hint of smoke that lingers on the backend. The tenderness of it comes from casks that have been smoothened out over the years by batches of new make.

Palate & Finish:

The palate is humble, sweet with just that wax layer coating the tongue, giving the dram a bit of texture. Orange nectar with a wee touch of oak spices. The woodiness gradually comes out as does the soft peat.

A rather poetic finish with traces of smoking gliding in and out of the faint honeyed barley note.

Thoughts:

It’s a whisky that nurses and understands..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas