Distillery/Brand: Brora | Region: Highland | ABV: 49.9% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 91
Brora. The elusive spirit that is fast becoming unobtainable for ordinary mortals like me. Each year Diageo unveils a Special Release of old stock Brora lying around at a price which, if my only child was kidnapped, I would be unable to pay the equivalent amount in ransom.
But that’s OK. If that’s where the industry is headed then so be it. I’ll simply contend my self with a 3cl sample just to satisfy my curiosity.
Not because I’m curious to see what it is that costs so much but that I genuinely like a Brora. Not that I’ve drunk a truckload of them but when ever I’ve drunk one I’ve enjoyed it. I think the flavor profile is truly original.
I have an unopened 30 year old bottled in 2010 which looks very tasty. But given where the prices are going I might hold on to that for a while. Let’s see.
So the dram in my hand is part of the famed 2013 Special Release from Diageo. The 35 year old spirit was distilled in 1977 and is a mix of re-fill American and European oak. It is bottled at a cask strength of 49.9%. I suspect another 10 years and it would not have remained whisky any longer.
Nose: Mild peat. Perfumed wood. White grapes. Pears. Berries. Chenin Blanc. Jute bag. Clove. Rice husk. Digestive biscuits. Green lime. Vanilla. Very strong nose. Stays assertive. Let this one breathe for as long as you like. It stays true and refuses to waiver. Quite remarkable even if not overly complex.
Palate: Quite sprightly. Burnt wood. Citrus. Butterscotch. Juicy apples. Pears. Stewed fruits. Berries. And that mild peat again. The medium bodied delivery is very nice. Quite juicy. Makes you salivate. There’s a hint of spice but that dissipates quickly amongst the fruit basket.
Finish: Long. Oily. Iodine. Hint of spice. White melon. Oak.
Once again this is a very tasty beverage. The 35 years have been manipulated quite expertly. There is not a wrong note any where. My only criticism would be that it’s not as complex as I would want it to be. But that’s OK.
Sometimes beauty lies in simplicity.
Distillery/Brand: Johnnie Walker | ABV: 40% | Colour: Gold
Nose: 21 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 85
Let me start by saying this is not a bad blend at all. It has some Port Ellen in it, though I don’t know how much. All the whiskies in here are at least 20 years old which, I suppose, in a way could begin to justify the high(ish) price tag – over US$250 travel retail.
That being said I have a pet peeve when it comes to products that are merely half way decent but are made to appear as if they have come down from the heavens on Gods’ own winged chariot. Now multiply my peeve by 10 when it comes to whisky.
Which is why I am a little miffed. Sitting atop shelves and commanding top dollar at bars just because of some snazzy packaging, a scroll and a marketing budget the size of Liberia’s trade deficit?
Sorry, but that’s not supposed to happen.
So the only thing I can do to balance out this equation is deduct one point from my review for excessive marketing and deluding innocents. That should make the brass at Diageo sit up and take notice.
Right, what else is there to do now but share my thoughts.
Nose: It’s not bad. Fresh out of the bottle the peat is quite strong (must be that drop of Port Ellen). There’s a nice wisp of smoky, salty butterscotch toffee on almonds. Let it settle and the vanilla starts coming out but now with some ginger spice and red apple. I think the nose is decent but definitely not as complex as promised on the velvet blue box.
Palate: Quite creamy if a touch one dimensional. There’s smoke on pear pudding and grated ginger. Touch of woody vanilla and chocolate lemon tart. A second sip brings out the savory salty nuts. Mull it longer and experience a drop of fish oil. Must be that Port Ellen.
Finish: Medium oily with that same grated ginger which is there through out your journey. But now with a sprig of bitter mint.
I think this is a half-way decent dram which should be treated as such. If the less-informed want to plonk their hard earned cash to fulfill some marketing generated stab at a status symbol then I wish them good health.
For everyone else may I suggest five Ardbeg 10s in the same price.