Spirits from “ghost” distilleries are meant to haunt you.
And it’s safe to say that Brora—as one of my five Holy Grail Scotches—haunts me quite a bit.
Consider the half-drunk bottle of 35-year-old Brora from 1977 in my kitchen counter, which I expect to last for another 35 years—mainly because replacing it would set me back at least $2,200. (Trust me, if money were no object, I’d have rows and rows of Broras in my collection—and I’d have a whiskey cave that’d resemble Golden Promise in Paris.)
And while Brora, the legendary Islay distillery, ceased operations more than three decades ago in 1983, Diageo announced in 2017 that it was spending $45 million to bring it (and its Islay cousin Port Ellen) back to life—to the delight of multitudes.
So in advance of the distillery’s reopening in mid-May, the reborn Brora announced that it will be releasing three limited-edition single malts: stellar whiskies between 38 and 48 years old. And get this, all three 500-milliliter Brora Triptych bottlings must be purchased together as a set—for £30,000 (or $42,000). It will also only be available in the distillery, highly-specialized spirits retailers, and on brora.com.
“My father was an ‘old hand’ at the distillery and I grew up in the village with the top of the distillery’s bell tower visible from our kitchen window. In the years after Brora’s closure, I remember my father showing me the old cask ledgers and the records of those final casks distilled in 1983 and asking if Brora would return one day,” Brora master distiller Steward Bowman mentioned in an official release. “It fills me with great pride that thirty-eight years after the doors of Brora closed, more casks will now be filled, and we will be able to welcome people once again to this special place. It is our commitment that we will do justice to the Brora of old and hope to welcome visitors to our restored home as soon as that is possible. In the Brora Triptych, we aimed to celebrate the great whisky styles of the past for which Brora is known.”
The three-bottle collection is intended to pay homage to the storied distillery—with each expression representing Brora’s most celebrated styles. “These are some of our very last precious relics from a Brora of bygone age. Each one represents a moment in time at the distillery and tasting these superb whiskies is to be part of a special moment in history,” says master blender Dr. Craig Wilson. “When selecting the casks for these rare bottlings, we wanted to celebrate those distinct characteristics that define Brora, and those that we seek to uphold as we begin a new chapter in its story.”
So for those who have tens of thousands to spare, act fast. Only 300 sets will be available—and only in conjunction with the reopening of the distillery. Another perk: Those who manage to get their hands on one of the triptychs will be personally invited by Bowman to experience the new Brora facility.
Behold: The Brora Triptych Collection
Brora Elusive Legacy: 48 Years Old at 42.8% ABV (1972)
This 48 Year Old is the distillery’s oldest public release. It represents a exceptional style from the 1972 casks—and is a distinctly earthy expression. It’s considered a collectible, considering that not much of was made throughout the lifespan of the distillery.
Brora Age of Peat: 43 Years Old at 48.6% ABV (1977)
This particular 43 Year Old is a heavily peated and conveys the “classic Brora style” ubiquitous in the 1970s. It is also one of the few specimens of a highly-peated Highland whisky. These 1977 casks matured spectacularly and the whisky is as multi-layered and intense as any Islay whisky enthusiast would want it.
Brora Timeless Original: 38 Years Old at 47.6% ABV (1982)
The youngest one of the trio is a 38 Year Old 1982 and displays the kind of waxiness and viscosity that made Brora famous. This is the “modern version” that many seem to feel is a little bit more “refined,” which essentially means less peat-forward.