Limited edition marks Brora’s 200th birthday

From this month, the revered ghost distillery Brora will reveal one of its oldest ever releases, a year ahead of its re-opening.

Brora 40-Year-Old is a limited-edition Single Malt bottled to commemorate two centuries in the lifetime of a distilling icon. Drawn from one dozen casks of vintage stocks from 1978, each of the 1,819 bottles, reflecting the year the distillery opened, offers a rare glimpse into a golden era of Brora’s past.

Nestled on the windswept Sutherland coast in North East Scotland, Brora was founded in 1819. Generations later in 1983, its stills fell silent and the historic distillery was closed, suspended in time.

In the years since, the whisky resting within its final casks, developed an extraordinary rich complexity through further ageing, and scarce releases found the highest acclaim.

From 2020, Brora’s gates will open after some 36 years of quiet, following meticulous, brick-by-brick restoration currently underway to bring the legendary whisky house back to life.

To welcome this new era and celebrate the past craftsmen that made Brora over its 200-year history, comes this new release 40-year-old expression.

Diageo master blender Dr Craig Wilson has selected just 12 American oak hogshead casks from Brora’s vintage stocks to celebrate a moment of the distillery’s history: The Age of Peat.

Craig explained: ‘Of all the stories of Brora, there is one that seemed particularly fitting to tell on its 200th Anniversary. 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.’

In searching for the casks for this release, Dr Wilson worked alongside the Diageo Archive Team that had unearthed original Brora production records as part of their ongoing work to assist in the distillery restoration.

This allowed the master blender to identify the years at which this now revered smoky style of Brora was at its peak, and following careful nosing of the individual casks, Dr Wilson made his selection: a 1978 40-year-old Single Malt of immense complexity that perfectly reflected this moment of Brora’s past.

Encased in a deep burgundy velvet display case, the bottle is adorned with the Brora emblem of the Scottish Wild Cat – crest of the distillery’s founder, the Duke of Sutherland.

This is the first commercial release from Brora since the 2017 Special Releases and will be available starting this month at the suggested retail price of £4500, and will be available globally through selected luxury retailers.