Saturday, 4 January 2014

Breaking Brora

Brora 35 year old 1977 (49.9%) - 2013 Special Release 

Copyright - Master of Malt

Reviewing something as divisive as a Diageo Special release can be a political minefield and is certainly not the kind of review you should use to kick off a blog. You'd have to be a complete fool to do that.

If a reviewer drools and simpers over it, they run the risk of being called out as an industry shill. Rip it apart, set it on fire and urinate on the ashes however, they're in real danger of being labelled something much more worrying - a whisky hipster.

Now, I am far from being a reformist, however having sourced this sample from my own pocket (all the while wincing at the price), I feel under no pressure to don a sequinned waistcoat and turn somersaults to the tune of a street organ. Instead, I shall attempt to dissect, assess and sum up as I see fit. Additionally, lest my buttocks be plagued with splinters, I shall attempt to do so with minimal fence-sitting.


Light, east Highland character akin to aged Clynelish. Floral with an intriguing speck of Indian spice. The merest suggestion of sea spray and smoke.

With water the smoke is softened but more evident. Sweetcure ham and mild soap make an appearance.


Rich and heathery with restrained sherry notes. Floral with a decadent, oily mouthfeel and superbly spiced.

With water the whisky takes a sweeter, spicier turn with white pepper stepping forward and a salty spray creeping in towards the finish. Sweetcure ham becomes smoked bacon and the whole affair loses a touch of complexity.


Restrained but still long. Less Edinburgh tattoo and more Andean panpipes.

Water has an adverse effect on the finish but it remains robust enough to hang around for an encore.


The question I find myself pondering is whether this is worth the hype, the clamour and, ultimately, the price. This retailed originally at circa £750; Lord knows what it would command on the secondary market. There's really no doubt that this is a very good whisky; as good a whisky as any I have tried. However, as a whisky drinker (not an investor), I'd say an aged indy Clynelish could be just as good for a small fraction of the price.

Grade: A     

Stunningly good and an excellent example of East Highland whisky. Cripplingly expensive and an excellent example of current whisky hysteria. Save yourself a fortune and buy an older Clynelish.

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