Tasting brilliant expressions from shuttered distilleries is bittersweet. I feel like an anthropologist stumbling upon a civilization that mysteriously vanished but whose cultural and technological marvels elicit wonder. And then I find myself fantasizing about time machine travel. Oh, to be sent back into the 80s with my parachute pants, Member’s Only jacket, and an aluminum suitcase filled with cash to purchase the distillery and keep it going! All of which is to say, I have no idea what the good people at Brora were doing then. I just wish they were doing it in my basement right now.
The beginning of the dram is vaguely Nietzschean. “When you gaze long into the pineapple, the pineapple gazes into you.” The nose unfurls like an improbably large sail made from sweetly fermenting apple skins. It’s like a Georgia O’Keefe sensory experience, a 4-D display that includes smellovision. Rosewater ganache covering sandalwood tongue depressors. I say Ahhhh!
The mouth is a Glockenspiel nonet playing Tubular Bells inside your sinus cavity. A watermelon jolly rancher. Lilac soap on a rope. A ball of masking tape left to gather dust near the baseboard heater. Shortbread Oreo wheels sandwiching a crème anglaise middle.
I think I would find it easier to write about my finish than the finish of this whisky. (pauses to jot down “write own obituary posthumously” on his bucket list). There is the sorrow of loss everywhere, like the last speaker of a language no one else understands, or a crown of blossoms to adorn a now-deposed king. Sponge cake prepared by a milkmaid, for a lady in waiting who stands with at least 14 items in the express lane. Pineapple juice used in your grandfather’s fountain pens and then made to draw scenes that would make Hieronymous Bosch blush. More illustrations follow with buttermilk-dipped paintbrushes on cactus vellum.
The Brora 35 Year 2014 Limited Edition is the right panel–Edenic, pastoral, godly, and yet soon to be plunged into the sins depicted on the center panel whose wages would be collected on the left panel.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!