In a recent Diageo masterclass I was able to try the 2016 editions of the Brora and Port Ellen Special Releases. Not much introduction required.
Brora 38 Year Old, distilled in 1977.
Brora 38 yo 1977 (48,6%, OB 2016, 15th Annual release, refill American oak hogsheads + refill European oak butts, 2984 btl.)
Nose: a truly unique mix of warm peaches and yellow plums, mixed with lots of oily notes, leather and light farmy touches (not the sheep stables, but hay, leafy notes and wet dogs). Something dusty / musty as well, in the best way possible. Also grilled pineapple and lightly smoked meat in the background. Slight vanilla notes. Lemongrass. Camphor. Autumnal whisky at its best.
Mouth: slightly sharper than expected, with very light peat and less light ashes but mostly oily notes again and a salty edge. Leather. Candle wax. Bitter almonds and a good dose of old oak. A little chamomile and mint. Newspaper paper! Liquorice. Quite earthy again, but there’s a combination of dark chocolate and light floral notes that keeps it in check.
It’s difficult to explain the appeal of this whisky (and Brora in general) as it does show some musty, stale and bitter notes that seem strange on paper. Yet it is extremely complex and the balance and elegance is stunning. Just beautiful, beautiful whisky. Around € 1750. That is probably too much, but based on the quality and compared to the price of the Port Ellen it’s certainly better value.