A nip like no other
For the first posting on whisky it would seem appropriate to talk about one that is near and dear to me. Brora distillery is one of those that is now confined to the annals of history.
The distillery was opened by the infamous Marquis de Stafford as Clynelish and received its licence in 1824. It was built near the village of Brora, 59 miles north of Inverness. It changed hands a few times before the 60′s and in ’67 a second Clynelish distillery was opened accross the road. In ’69 the old distillery closed for a short while before being rebranded as Brora in ’75.
Unfortunately, life was short lived for this unique distillery; producing the peatiest of highland malts earned it the rubric “Lagavulin of the North” and it stopped production in 1983. For good, it seems.
Clynelish, in the meantime continues to produce a heady malt, albeit with somewhat less punch than it’s uncle, Brora. Though Brora was never really bottled as a single malt, it was snatched up by a number of independent bottlers to be aged. Later, when single malts became more commonplace this whisky found its niche and was bottled alone. I believe that Diageo has some stock as well and is releasing it, but I have only seen independent bottlers.
About a year ago I took notes on my third tasting of the thirty year old expression. It still stands as the most dramatic tasting I have experienced.
I found it to be vaguely reminiscent of Talisker, very peppery and earthy on the nose with heavy smoke and rich malt underlying in the nose.
At %55.7 A.B.V. the initial taste hit hard and lambasted the tongue. It sent shivers through my skull and down my spine. It was like an angel had pissed on my tongue.
The first sensation I experienced was sweet smoke. It caused my mouth to dry for a second, then flood itself in response. Seaweedy iodine and bitterness followed for me.
The mouthfeel was oily and perhaps meaty. It lolled about on the tongue like an old man strolling in a field on the first day of spring, stopping every now and again to take in the new aromas on the air.
With a touch of water (and it was a thrifty touch), the alcohol and smoke were tamed to bring out the sweetness of the malt. It became much more complex.
This whisky was perhaps the most well balanced malt I have tasted, certainly for my own palate. It finished elegantly and left me gasping for more. Unfortunately, at about 50+ a nip I was unable to indulge.
Brora can certainly be an expensive malt to buy. The thirty year old was priced at around $450 CAD and will no doubt rise in price. If you do happen to find a bottle in any expression, I encourage its purchase. It is worth every penny.