What now is called the Brora distillery was named Clynelish all through its lifetime. From 1819 until May 1968 there was just one Clynelish distillery but in 1968 a new heavily expanded distillery (three times the capacity of the old one) started its production on the same site and the old distillery was mothballed (intentionally forever). But all of a sudden a severe drought hit Islay for several years (that is why there are hardly any Islay distillery bottlings of the vintages 1969-1971 out there). So the brand owner DCL was afraid of running short of peated malt for its blends (among them Johnny Walker) in the future and looked for alternative production sites of peated malt.
They remembered the recently mothballed old Clynelish distillery and resumed production there with unusually heavily-peated malt (compared to the standard Clynelish recipe) in 1969. Internally they named the distilleries just Clynelish-A and Clynelish-B but they had an inconsistent cask stencilling regime in place until 1974 so (later) they could not be sure whether a cask was filled with malt from Clynelish-A or Clynelish-B. This did not matter as all malt went into blends anyways but when they decided to bottle single malt releases too they faced problems: They marketed the old distillery malt (Clynelish-B) simply with the name of the town the distilleries are located in: Brora. But to avoid potential claims all malt from "questionable stencilled" casks (e.g., the complete 1973 vintage) was marketed as Clynelish only (which is true anyways) so some Clynelish releases of the vintages prior to 1974 might actually be Brora malt.
DCL used the drought period on Islay to demolish the old Caol Ila distillery and build a new distillery with much higher capacity on the same site which started production in 1974. From that time on the heavily peated malt of the old Clynelish distillery (aka Brora) was no longer needed and they gradually reduced the peating levels at Brora to the standard Clynelish profile during the next years (that is why the later Brora vintages taste completely different to the early ones). And with the beginning of the whisky crisis in 1983 the old Clynelish distillery was shut down again together with dozens of other distilleries in Scotland.
So remember: Any Clynelish distilled before 1968 is actually a Brora (distilled in the old Clynelish distillery). Some Clynelish of pre-1974 vintages might be a Brora (you will taste the difference due to the higher peating levels, for sure) and most Brora after 1978 actually own rather a lightly-peated profile and hence taste more like a Clynelish.
Got confused? Simply read this again, in the end it is quite logical given the driving business forces of those times.
So I expect this dram to be a kind of transitional Brora - not as heavily peated as the early vintages (until 1975) but still significantly heavier than the later Clynelish-alikes of the 80ies vintages...
...and indeed, it is exactly such a profile and it is flabbergasting! These transitional profiles sometimes are truly great when they combine the best of both worlds like this one. It offers aspects of the untamed power of the early vintages as well as the subtleness and complexity of the later ones (okay, the early vintages were incredibly complex too). A fantastic dram and if any dram is worth a four-digit price tag than this one is (and you still can find a bottle close to the initial market price, with a little luck).
The colour is old old and this dram offers an incredible nose, triple wow! Of course I use a big spheric blenders glass which offers a myriad of aromas right from the beginning. The peat is (as expected) not as strong as with the 1972-75 vintages but still it is significant and of a flabbergasting complexity. There are even maritime notes in there (did they use Islay peat?) and the usual (very delicious) heavy waxy notes. Besides this there are grapefruits, liquorice, hints of tar, kippers and even some winey impressions. Truly great stuff, a nose to sniff forever! And it improves further with breathing so take your time with this dram.
Now I switch to a standard Glencairn glass for drinking (never drink out of blender's glasses because they turn all drams to taste somewhat flat and dull, not sure why but it is as it is). The taste is multi-multi layered and a must-chewer! All the different flavour march along my taste buds as if they were on a Mardi Gras parade - dancing and flirting and ... enjoying themselves (and me). No, I do not list all these impressions here as it is much more fun to detect them one after one without preoccupation. Water releases more earthy-chalky aromas in the nose and dozens of new impressions on the palate - I enjoy this dram both neat and somewhat reduced (another characteristics of truly great malts).
This malt arrives absolutely charming on the palate - one of the best mouthfeelings I ever had. Instantly it coats all of the mouth with a creamy and warming texture without any distracting bitter or astringent moment at all. The finish is very long (what else given this texture) and adds some more tasty smokey and winey impressions, what an unusual combo. Again not the slightest distracting moment, these were perfectly matured casks (and a great selection by - whoever did this - at Diageo).