This is the first ever Brora I have ever tasted, although, I have a couple of original bottles stashed in my bar for a momentous occasion. I have always been fascinated with this distillery given it’s consistently well-reviewed bottles; original or independent.
Now I’m a bit wary of independents given the uncertainty of flavor one may find in various bottlings. However, I seem to have struck gold with this little sample.
Picked up as a 5cl mini from an auction site this 1981 Signatory bottling of this 18 year old spirit (matured in a sherry butt #1081) is an absolute class act. I have never experienced a nose change so dramatically as this (especially after being left to breathe for over an hour).
Nose: Immediately good quality sherry. Not so much from the color, mind you, but the first nose is unmistakable sherry with a dash of peat. Extremely fresh and extremely sweet. Like a hard-boiled butterscotch sweet smothered in grass. The sweet perfumed citrus is next covered in a dollop of honey and delicately smoked piece of vanilla wood. Quite glorious.
Leaving it breathe for an hour turned the nose on it’s head. It took on a peculiar supermarket aisle quality – fresh grains in a jute bag surrounded by detergent and cleaning liquids. I’m not sure where that came from but it was a huge surprise to see the nose change so much. It wasn’t bad, mind you. I was just taken aback, that’s all. This is probably one of the most complex and multi-layered noses I have ever come across.
Palate: There’s brittle honey and dark sugar with just the right amount of smoke. The butterscotch re-enters the fray only this time with a sprig of mint and a squeeze of citrus in it’s corner. The extended oxidization gave the spirit a lovely lemon sponge cake quality. Quite homely.
Finish: The long dry finish is quite woody with vanilla drops on cinnamon.
I had built up the Brora in my head and this independent offering managed to, not only prevent me from disappointment, but further fueled my curiosity about this great lost distillery.