Brora 40-year-old marks new era for distillery

Aug 14, 2019by Amy Hopkins

Diageo has released a 40-year-old Brora Scotch whisky to celebrate the Highland distillery’s 200th anniversary, one year ahead of its reopening.

Drawn from one dozen vintage American oak hogshead casks from 1978, the whisky is said to be one of the oldest releases from Brora, which is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. The distillery was founded in 1891 and mothballed in 1983. In 2017, brand owner Diageo announced plans to revive the site with a £35 million investment, which is also being used to bring Islay's Port Ellen back into production. Diageo will aim to “replicate where possible the distillation regimes and spirit character of the original distilleries”. Work on Brora has involved the restoration of its existing buildings and old pot stills, which remain on site. The liquid used for the new limited edition hails from a time when Brora produced heavily peated malt. Master blender Dr Craig Wilson worked with Diageo’s archive team to discover when the smoky style of Brora “was at its peak”. “Of all the stories of Brora, there is one that seemed particularly fitting to tell on its 200th anniversary," said Wilson. “From 1969-83, there was a new experimentation phase in production and the Brora distillers created a smoky malt used heavily-peated northern Highland barley. “Used primarily in blends at the time, the few casks that are left from this ‘age of peat’, matured remarkably well and what remains is a multi-layered and complex single malt of astonishing quality. Little did the craftsmen at the time know, they had created a masterpiece. “It is emblematic of the varied past of the distillery that makes it so special to all that know it: a humble story of experimentation, craft and happy coincidence.” Diageo will release 1,819 bottles of the limited edition – reflecting the year of the distillery's opening. It is priced at £4,500 (US$5,438) and will be available from this month.