This is a follow-up post to my previous one, in which I sampled the Brora 30 year 2009 release. I just got my hands on a sample of the 2007 release (thanks Bryan!) and wanted to share my notes on this one as well. However, what I really want to draw your attention to is an excellent “Say What!?” guest post on the WHISKYhost blog by Ruben of WhiskyNotes.be fame. He talks about this concept of “farmy” notes in a whisky, which on the surface might sound off-putting, but is actually considered a desirable quality by many whisky drinkers.
Ruben notes [you checked out the "Say What!?" link above, right?] that in a sherry-matured whisky, any existing farmy notes can be amplified by the possible presence of sulphur. I think this is what happened when I noted a pungent “dairy farm” component on the nose of Lagavulin 21. At times, it was a bit too much for me. As you’ll see, the Brora 30 does not reach this extreme.
Note: I’ll be referencing the 2009 release, as well as the Signatory Brora that I talked about in the previous post.
Brora 30 Year (2007); OB; 55.7%; Bottle 2814 of 2958; $400+Nose: No butterscotch like the 2009. This jumps straight to the oak (stronger oak than the 2009 release) and rich vanilla, with a Talisker-like, earthy peat along side. It then gets a bit more “farmy” than the 2009. Not so much to the point of manure, but certainly hay and the presence of animals. Palate: Juicy, with an oily coat on the tongue. You get the sense of earthy peat here, too. Not quite as much pepper as on the 2009 release, it seems.
Finish: As soon as you start to swallow, the peat and farmy notes rush up the back of the nostrils, hanging there for a medium to long duration. There’s also a sweetness and oakiness, but the oak isn’t as big as it was on the nose. The farmy profile is similar to the nose, but with more attack here in the finish. It’s still not over the top for me, though.
Yes, this 2007 release is more farmy than the 2009 version. However, this is still one cool, sophisticated customer. Not nearly as rowdy as the Signatory 21 year. I didn’t really notice any mint in this one, which is a HUGE part of the Signatory profile, and still subtly present in the 2009 release. If you’re familiar with the peating level of the standard Clynelish and Oban releases, the peat in this Brora is stronger than that. However, it’s not as strong as younger, standard Islay or Talisker releases. 30 years of maturation probably has something to do with that.
I’m really glad I got to try this release. From other descriptions, I feared that I might find this one off-putting. However, the farmy qualities are not such that it makes you snap your head back from the glass. Rather, it puts you in an outdoors frame of mind, perhaps being at or near a ranch. That, combined with the rich vanilla, mature wood notes and peat makes the overall experience very enjoyable. I would rank this very close to the 2009 release. Another A- in my book.
- WhiskyNotes.be – Along with his “Say What!?” guest post, Ruben posted a review of this Brora 2007 release on his own blog. He clearly likes it better than the 2009 release. I’m still on the fence, and it might come down to mood.
- WHISKYFUN.COM – (Scroll down to the “Bonus” review) Serge also rates this 2007 version a couple of points higher than the 2009 version. Now I’m really starting to wish I still had a little of the 2009 left from last week for a head-to-head comparison.
- Malt Advocate – A short and sweet review by John Hansell, where he hands out 95 points and calls it “Brora at its finest.”
- whisky connosr – Here’s a review from somebody on connosr.com (I have an account there, where I keep a list of my open bottles). They found the peat and farm notes to be more in-your-face than I did.
- Whisky Bible – No online review link, but Jim Murray rated this one at 88.5. Good, but below the other Brora releases he has reviewed. He felt that the oak was a bit tired and “off.”