Johnnie Walker has a limited edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label called Ghost and Rare, which includes whiskies from ‘ghost distilleries’ that are silent and aren’t producing at the moment.
The first expression in this series is called Blue Label Brora and Rare – it features the Brora distillery as well as Pittyvaich and Cambus, plus malt and grain whisky from five operational distilleries: Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, and Cameronbridge.
While I’m always interested when I see the name Brora, in general I don’t think whisky from lost distilleries should ever be blended away. I’m sure the remaining casks are not all excellent but the chances to try these distilleries are just too precious. In the case of Brora, even the worst expression I’ve tried was well worth bottling as a single malt.
While the remaining number of casks from these Ghost and Rare distilleries may be low, apparently over 40.000 bottles of this Johnnie Walker Blue Label Brora & Rare have been made available.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label ‘Ghost & Rare’ – Brora & Rare (46%, OB 2017)
Nose: really nice, with a dusty warehouse as well as some earthy / mineral notes that do hint towards Brora. Lots of hazelnuts. Yellow apples, oranges and peaches. Hints of roasted pineapple. Cedar. Waxy notes. A light honeyed sweetness in the background. A grainy edge and a kind of exotic fragrant touch as well. Smooth but rather complex for a blend.
Mouth: sweet start, on sugared almonds, apples and honey. Then moving to malty and nutty notes (sugar coated almonds and hazelnuts) and some mineral and earthy notes (mint, heather, a little tobacco). Some chocolate and delicate smoke. Always a waxy side as well.
Finish: rather okay, with a light woody note, crème brûlée and roasted nuts.
This is a very good blend, with a complex nose. Overall the added mineral / earthy hints make it more interesting the the regular Johnnie Walker Blue Label. You’re paying quite a heavy price though, for supposedly just a limited amount of Brora in the mix. Still available from Master of Malt for instance.