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Brora 1977 / 21 Year Old / Rare Malts

Fruit From Another World

5 1090

@RianCReview by @RianC

25th Dec 2018


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I rarely do reviews from a couple of drams but feel if ever an exception should be made this is one . . . I was at the in-laws for Christmas dinner today and my brother in law brought this little beauty out. This bottle now sells for about £2500 and can easily be said to be out of my league but, long story short, his partner's step-dad is an author who was apparently gifted this bottle by his publisher way back. He doesn't drink whisky so it sat in a drinks cabinet gathering dust for years until it was gifted to my BiL who very kindly shared some with me today.

Well, if I must . . .

Nose - Distinctly fruity and musty but hard to pin down. Fruit salad sweets and ripe, tart, old pungent tropical fruits - pineapple and something reminiscent of durian. Slight whiff of baby sick (but in a good way, obviously ha). A definite salty tang with some old wax polish and lemon peels. Complex.

Taste - Pretty much as the nose with the complex fruit being front and center and carrying right the way through. Maybe a touch of baker's almonds and a very oily, yet quite light, mouth feel. Sweet to more sour and creamy.

Finish - Salty and lingers long. Sour fruits and some well integrated mixed spice comes out.

One would always like more time with such a whisky but I can't say I wasn't generously imbibed (and probably looked a bit silly scribbling down notes at the dinner table)! That said, my notes are as I found it after a good while in the glass and just a few drops of water. The fruitiness of this was surprising and offered tastes I've not really come across in whisky before. A great experience and a characterful malt for sure.

Related Brora reviews


Hewie commented

What a fantastic opportunity to sample something special. Great back story too. I could imagine it all as you described it - even the durian! Nice to hear it still had a very fruit forward profile even with the mustiness and baby sick. Funny how that can sound do appealing! Thanks for sharing.

28 days ago 1Who liked this?

RianC commented

@Hewie - My pleasure! I looked at some other similar aged reviews after writing this and most say they get a little peat. It certainly had a salty tang but I didn't really get any peat myself. That said, I'm under the impression that this bottle has been open, without gas, for quite a number of years (maybe more than ten - certainly more than five) so it way well have faded away in that time.

28 days ago 1Who liked this?

casualtorture commented

Durian and baby sick...not sure you've convinced me to go for this one. Not that I could find it anyway.

27 days ago 2Who liked this?

RianC commented

@casualtorture - When you put it like that . . . lol! It was perhaps more enjoyable than it sounds smiley

27 days ago 1Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

@RianC Very nice for you to have an opportunity to taste this stuff. But @ 2500 pounds is it really that much better than Corryvreckan, Lagavulin 12, Laphroaig CS, Octomore etc.? Seems kind of disproportionate to me. I don’t know. A friend just recently bought a 30 yr old Brora and a Port Ellen that I think is also around 30 years old at an auction for around $1250 US each. We, his malthead friends, are going to have to pony up around $60 Can an ounce to get a taste. We’ll probably all do it because it’s the only way we will ever get to taste this legendary juice. We’ll at least find out what all the fuss is about.

26 days ago 2Who liked this?

Robert99 commented

@RianC , @BlueNote When you approach the Graal, you have to be amazed even if you realize it is a carpenter’s cup.

26 days ago 2Who liked this?

RianC commented

@BlueNote - In a word, no. I wanted to go into that a bit more in the review but felt it might have been a tad unfair due to my relatively brief time with it; that and the amount of air it had seen (although being older and CS it may not have harmed it too much). Also, I'd guess that when this came on sale (c late 90's) it was nowhere near £2500!

I scored this 89 at first but bumped it a point after deciding that the uniqueness of its profile deserved an extra point. Last night I had some more OP 17, Booker's and Talisker 8 and I suspect one or two of those may well score higher marks from me than this. I'd possibly describe the OP 17 as being 'in the same ball park'.

Do let us know how you find the samples you get. I'd definitely like to try a Port Ellen, if for novelties sake more than anything else really.

26 days ago 0

BlueNote commented

@RianC I’m with you on the OP 17. I love it and I’m happy to have 2 in the bunker. I’ll let you know how it goes with the Brora and Port Ellen. Apparently, what he paid for them was a pretty good deal (the equivalent of about 1900 GBP for the pair) but still far too rich for my wallet.

26 days ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

@RianC you lucky sod getting to try an old Brora! Too good an opportunity to turn down that!

I agree with what others have said with these older malts particularly from moth-balled distilleries that the experience could never match the cost. But when the cost is free!!!

Did you here that Diageo are carrying out work at Brora and plan to start distilling again their in 2020?

24 days ago 1Who liked this?

RianC commented

@Wierdo - Yeah it was a real surprise and I do consider myself very lucky! He told me a week or so before xmas that he was bringing an old bottle but couldn't remember the distillery, only that it said 'Rare Malts'. I have to admit I was secretly hoping it was Port Ellen but would have been more than happy to try any 70's distillate.

And yes I did hear about Brora and Port Ellen being brought back - quite a lot of negative chatter about it seems, and I get why, but it will certainly be interesting to see what they produce and how they present it. Let's be honest though, I know what I'd lay my money down on wink

As an aside - will this potentially reduce the cash value of old Broras and Port Ellens?

24 days ago 0

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