Brora 21 (Rare Malts 1977/1998) Review

This is a 21 year Brora distilled in 1977 and bottled in 1998 at 56.9% ABV.

Nose: Classic Brora – sun-dried hay bales, freshly plowed field, corn husks, a bit of a salty, playdough characteristic to the malt – toasted marshmallows, and fresh grass clippings.

Palate: Very sweet up front with a viscous mouthfeel – dried grasses with a bit of anise – earthy, fresh oak and a big kick of pepper.

Finish: Burnt hay with rotted oak and heavily spiced chai.

Rating: 93/100 – Up there with some of the OBs I’ve had in terms of quality.

Value for the money: These are going around €800 or so at auction, and like all Brora, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for them. I wouldn’t pay that outright for a bottle of this, but I might trade at that value as the OBs are now well over $1000 these days.

Brora 25 (Douglas Laing McGibbon’s Provenance Winter 1974/Winter 2002) Review

This is a 25 year Brora bottled by Douglas Laing as part of their McGibbon’s Provenance series. It was bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Classic Brora notes right away – the quintessential farm malt. Freshly tilled soil, hay, soft peat, old barnwood with some ground cinnamon sticks. This has a sweeter profile than I typically find in Broras.

Palate: Nose transitions nicely with all the farm notes leading off with root vegetables, damp hay, slightly smoked oak, and again a lot more sweetness here than I usually find with Brora.

Finish: Fresh soil and mild oak linger with peat, decaying leaves, and black pepper.

Rating: 93/100 – Goes to show how good Brora is that it can shine even at 43%. I enjoyed this one a lot as it has all the perfect Brora notes for me all in perfect balance.

Value for the money: I bought into a bottle split at around a $700 valuation, and I wouldn’t buy a full bottle at that price. I’d save up some more and buy one of the OBs if you’re after Brora in that price range.

2013 Brora 35 Review

This was part of the 2013 Diageo Special Release. It’s a 35 year Brora bottled at 49.9% ABV. Brora is a legendary distillery that was closed in 1983 unfortunately.

Nose: Intense smoke with subtle peat and barley. A lot of sweet notes tucked away in the smoke – strawberries and cream primarily.

Palate: Spiced malt, rich oak, black pepper – nice blend of sweet/smoke. Peat is gentle at the tip of the tongue. Classic farm notes with copious hay.

Finish: Very long finish – sweet and salty malt with smoke and peat fading gently.

Rating: 96/100 – One of my favorite malts I’ve ever had, and my favorite Brora expression I’ve tried.

Value for the money: Brora is crazy expensive and only becoming more expensive over time. This retailed for around $1,000, and if you’re looking for a legendary malt and have the disposable income, I’d highly recommend it.

Brora 25 Review

This is the Brora 25 bottled as part of the Diageo Special Releases in 2008. It’s bottled at 56.3% ABV.

Nose: Sweet malt with smoky green apples and a bit of brine.

Palate: On the sweeter side up front with smoky malt and seawater coming in behind – peat is fairly minimal.

Finish: Smoke and malt dominate with oak and tart fruit blend in the background.

Rating: 93/100 – I love the Brora profile and this one does not disappoint.

Value for the money: Broras are already priced at an extreme premium, and this one is no different. It will likely run you $1,000+, but if you’re looking to drop some serious money on a Brora, I’d buy a 2013 Brora 35 instead.

Brora 21 Signatory Review

This is a Signatory bottling (cask #1586) of 21 year old Brora that was distilled in 1981 and bottled in 2003 at 46%.

Nose: Much brinier than the other Broras I’ve had but not quite as farmy as them. Waxy stone fruits, subtle peat with mossy oak.

Palate: Very salty up front with peat ash, bitter oak, and tobacco – still very little on the farm note front.

Finish: Bitter salted oak with subtle peat and lingering spice.

Rating: 88/100 – Doesn’t live up to the Brora OBs I’ve had, but a good dram nonetheless.

Value for the money: These seem to go for around $450+ and it’s an easy pass at that price. Broras are going to be expensive no matter what, but I’d rather save up for an OB.

Brora 35 (2014) Review

This is the 2014 Diageo Annual Release Brora which was aged 35 years and bottled at 48.6% ABV.

Nose: Freshly dug earth with strawberries and dried hay. Subtle brine, peat is barely there but present if you go digging. Dry old oak with a slightly nutty profile.

Palate: Big farm notes in traditional Brora fashion – musty hay, old oak soaked in salt water, round and earthy.

Finish: Quite dry with oak turning slightly bitter – finish quite light overall with very subtle peat, brine, and hay

Rating: 93/100 – Very good overall, but not quite as good as the 2013 Brora 35 which is one of my favorite drams of all time.

Value for the money: These retailed for $1,000-$1,300 which is about a 30% increase over the Brora 35 from 2013. If you’re looking to spend that kind of money on a malt, I’d take the 2013 Brora 35 over this one and save a little bit.

Brora 30 (1981 Chieftain’s Cask #1523 K&L Selection) Review

This is a sherry finished Brora from K&L that was released a few years back. It’s a 30 year old expression that’s bottled at 54.6% ABV.

Nose: Bright & fruity with pineapple, figs, vanilla, creme brulee. Quite different overall from the typical earthy/farmy Brora notes. The sherry I presume masks a lot of those hay/grassy/farmy notes.

Palate: Big, rich sherry notes up front followed by black cherry, seasoned oak, plums, and raisins.

Finish: Sherry lingers on as the oak dries out and the heat intensifies – a bit of a black cherry cough syrup note stands out

Rating: 92/100 – Not sure I’m a huge fan of sherried Brora as it covers up a lot of the notes I really enjoy in a typical Brora. Still a great dram nonetheless.

Value for the money: These originally retailed for $250, which for Brora is dirt cheap. Not sure what they’d go for now, but I wouldn’t pay over $250 for it.