At least until the reopening of Clynelish’s legendary neighbour distillery in the northern Highlands, Brora will remain one of the most sought-after collectors of whiskies worldwide. The closed distillery produced once oily, smoky and very maritime malt whisky. Only a handful of this distillery’s outturn exists today and are correspondingly priced.
Directly next to each other you will find the distilleries Clynelish and Brora. Clynelish and Brora are sister distilleries and share a common history. Brora means “river bridge”. The name is pronounced as it is written.While in Clynelish munter Whisky is produced, production in Brora has been silent for decades. This has made Brora bottlings coveted collector’s objects and created a loyal fan base. Now Brora is to be brought back to life. From 2020, the “resurrection” of the Brora Distillery will be completed and new Malt Whisky will mature in the warehouses.
How does Brora Single Malt taste? The previous Brora single malts are heavier than the typical Highland Malt. The malts belong in the category of smoky whisky. So they are more like Islay Whisky. How the “new” Brora will taste remains to be seen.
How will Brora Whisky be produced?After the distillery has been closed since 1983, it will be a challenge to reproduce the old Brora whisky. In this context, it will be crucial how much information about the distillation process of Brora will be available to the new team. The new Brora will be burnt with 20 ppm of torched malt on the two old pot stills still standing in the distillery. Only the Washbacks, a new Mashtun and the Wormtubs will be replaced.It is known that the new Brora Distillery is intended to produce around 800,000 litres of alcohol a year. If you want to compare the “new” and “old” Brora Whisky with one another, you will not only have to have a rare collector’s item at home, but also be allowed to tolerate some 14 years, since the new whisky will probably only be available with approx.
The story of Brora goes hand-in-hand with that of Clynelish. The two distilleries dates back to the year 1819. This year, George Granville founded Levison-Gower, the later Duke of Sutherland founded the Clynelish distillery. In 1930, DCL, the predecessor organization of Diageo, took over the distillery.
This original distillery was complimented in 1967 by a new building on the same site. One year later, it was decided to close the old distillery in the short term in favour of the more modern Clynelish B. In April 1969 Clynelish A went into operation again. As a result, a malt called Clynelish was produced in two distilleries for a while.
This, of course, led to some confusion, and subsequent legislationrequired the renameing of Clynelish A, thus Brora was born. Until 1983, Brora and Clynelish produced side by side, each with a malt in their own style. Brora producing a peated spirit, sadly with the slump of the 1980s and the recent expansion of Caol Ila Brora suffered a collapse in demand and in 1983, the final closure of Brora followed.
Until recently, the distillery buildings of Brora were used by Clynelish as warehouses. After Brora is hot-sought after collectors and whisky lovers, Brora is now to be brought to life. By 2020, Brora is expected to be able to resume production.
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1819: Established by the Marquis of Stafford, later first Duke of Sutherland, as Clynelish Distillery to provide a use for the Barley grown by the tenants on his farms
1825-27: First licensed to James Harper, Midlothian when bankrupt
1827-28: John Matheson
1828-34: James Harper
1834-46: Lease was transferred to Andrew Ross
1846: George Lawson took over
1878-96: George Lawson & Sons
1896: A half interest in the distillery was acquired by James Ainslie & Co., blenders from Glasgow. The other half being owned by John Risk, previously of Bankier Distillery
At turn of the century: After the whisky boom the distillery hardly survived
1912: Taken over after James Ainslie & Co. went bankrupt by the Clynelish Distillery Co. Ltd., jointly owned by John Risk and the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL)
1916: John Walker & Sons Ltd. took a share
1925: John Risk was bought out and the distillery became part of Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL)
by 1930: Remaining share capital bought out and distillery transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD)
1961: Stills became steamheated
1967-1968: A new Distillery was built and named Clynelish 2
1968: Renamed to Clynelish 1 Distillery after completing the new distillery which was named Clynelish 2
1969: Closed for seven years before being refurbished. Clynelish 1 renamed to Brora, Clynelish 2 to Clynelish. Two stills. Licensed to Ainslie & Heilbron (Distillers) Ltd., Glasgow
1983-May: Distillery closed
Can I tour Brora?
No, unfortunately Brora distillery is not open to the public for tours