The original Highlander style of Brora was light and fruit-forward with a rich, butter texture and a long finish that was creamy and fresh. We are all sad that this lovely lady is gone for now and hope that someone will bring her back one day.
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Ironically, the most expensive bottle of Whisky ever sold by Diageo was a Brora. In 2014, one of the last casks from Brora's original style production was bottled after aging for 40 years. This 40YO Brora single malt sold for a retail price of £6,995.99, or more than $11,000.00 US.
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As the coast goes north from Inverness, it enters one of the most magical areas of classic Whisky production.
The limestone hill that rises up from the sea, contains some of the best springs in the world for making Whisky. About 30 minutes north of Tain, on Route A9 you will find the small town of Brora, and the former location of the Brora Distillery.
The Brora Distillery was founded by the Marquess of Stafford -- one of the richest families of the day, whose members collected royal titles like some of us collect stamps. The original name of the distillery was "Clynelish," and it kept that name all the way until 1968, when a sister-distillery was opened just next door.
The second distillery was opened, due to high demand for their high quality single malt, for sale on its own, and for use in various blends. Importantly, the younger sister took the Clynelish name, and the original was renamed Brora.
This is where the tale gets a bit sad, because the new distillery was a bit larger. Between 1969 and 1973, there was a drought in Islay, raising the price of peated malt Whisky. The owners decided to capitalize on that by retooling the smaller-producing Brora, to create kind of an imitation, peated, Islay single malt to fill the demand.
When the drought ended, Islay quickly got up to speed and demand fell. But by then, the Clynelish Distillery was covering all the demand for the Highland Single Malt, and Brora was left with little to do. They tried to fiddle with different styles and such, but the ship had sailed, so to speak, and the distillery was mothballed in1983.
In the pursuit of a few extra coins, Diageo effectively killed off this classic single malt. The gap of time sent all of its fans to other drams, and it never regained its footing. So you have the pre-1969 style, the drought-period heavily peated style, and the after-style that ended up being an odd combination of the two.
CountryUnited Kingdom, Scotland
No. of stills1 wash, 1 spirit
AddressBrora Distillery, Clynelish Rd, Brora, Highlands and Islands KW9 6LR, United Kingdom