Brora 18 – 1981 Signatory

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Distillery/Brand: Brora
Region: Highland
ABV: 43%
Color: Sunlight

Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
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.

Rating: 93

Rosebank Signatory Distilled 1989

Rosebank signatory

Distillery/Brand: Rosebank
Region: Lowland
ABV: 43%
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 22
Taste: 21
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
It’s always a treat to sample some juice from a closed distillery so it was nice to savour this particular expression from the Lowlands.

The pleasant nose starts of quite fresh and chock full of greens – almost a wet grassy morning hue in the air followed by big yellow lemons being drizzled on hard boiled candies. Finally a touch of mint and a light dusting of coconut complete a very nice nosing experience.

The velvety palate starts of white pepper spicy but then morphs into a juicy mixture of honey, mint and barley. It is very pleasant but I felt lacks the complexity favored by seasoned palates.

The dry finish is a touch minty with a not so unpleasant after taste of spicy wood.

What sets this one apart is that it is possibly the smoothest drink going down. Absolutely flawless texture.

Rating: 87