Brora 12th Release

Overall rating
Whiskybase ID
Single Malt
Distillery Bottling
Bottling serie
Diageo Special Releases 2013
Stated Age
35 years old
Refill American Oak and European Oak Casks
Number of bottles
49.9 % Vol.
700 ml 750 ml
Bottle code
Added on
09 Sep 2013 12:34 am
Cask Strength

Average value

€ 1978.32

85 × in wishlist

290 × member ratings

353 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Brora 12th Release

49 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 92.25 points

  1. hs305 scored this whisky 94 points Connoisseur

    [May, 2020] Tonight I am in the mood for a special (read: excellent) dram and so I selected this fine Brora release (thanks VVP!). Most people do not know that there was never ever any distillery called Brora that produced any whisky. Here is the story:

    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).
    • Nose
      94 94
      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.
    • Taste
      95 95
      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).
    • Finish
      94 94
      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).

  2. VaryingViewpoint scored this whisky 92 points Moderator

    This is my second dram after opening this bottle three weeks ago; seems a little less spectacular than when first opened. It's very good, but a lot is missing compered to the Brora 2nd Release https://www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/426/brora-2nd-release I had just six months ago.

    This one is a little peppery with a touch of bitterness on both the palate and the finish, which I did not expect, nor is it something that works very well.

    With all these 95+ ratings on this release I expected much more pleasant tasting notes (which are few and fleeting), without the peppery and bitterness that can't be ignored. To each his-own.

    Had my third dram this evening May 19 2019 five weeks after opening, and its improved quit a bit. I can now tell I'm drinking a Brora. It''s really opened up, there is still a bit of heat on the nose and palate but the bitterness is gone that I got in both the palate and finish the first two times. It's very good, still a far cry from the 2nd-release in terms of quality, complexity and immense flavour. But it's a joy to nose and drink. I'll be sealing this at 2/3 full and come back to it in 11 months time.
    • Nose
      93 93
    • Taste
      92 92
    • Finish
      90 90

  3. alectron did not rate this whisky Connoisseur

    I asked granellla2003 a few weeks/months ago how to understand his ratings, as they seem a bit random and he rates regional/private whisky bottlings as soon as they appear on WB (before people from that region have even tried/rated it), unfortunately I got no reply, which for me is a clear sign to ignore his scores altogether.
    Shame really and rather destructive to the whole whiskybase idea if the impression I get from the silence & his random ratings proves true...

  4. WhiskyFan2112 scored this whisky 92 points Connoisseur

    So, today I try this for the second time since late 2018. At the time I took no notes, though I do remember enjoying it as a quite tasty version of Brora and better than the only other bottling I've had the opportunity to taste. Let's see how this one tastes.

    Nose starts out with beeswax and faint smoke followed by citrus jubes, then a whiff of coastal sea air and finally a distant Cheerios cereal note.

    The palate carries on with the beeswax then lightly smoked pepper. Citrus zest follows with a slight saltiness and after a bit some licorice appears.

    The finish is moderate in length with beeswax, light pepper, and citrus arriving initially. The smoked pepper returns as well as a freshly snuffed scented candle.
    • Nose
      93 93
    • Taste
      92 92
    • Finish
      92 92

  5. markjedi1 scored this whisky 94 points Connoisseur

    Dark Brora
    I have had the pleasure of tasting the official releases from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Each and every one of them were absolutely fabulous with the 6th Release from 2006 as overall best. It will not surprise you that I am very much looking forward to trying this 12th Release from 2013 (and that has nothing to do with the fact that it was distilled in the year that Star Wars hit the silver screen).
    The nose is sweeter than anticipated with mashed banana, juicy pears and a truckload of pineapple (I am not kidding), grapefruit and waxed wooden floors. Brown sugar. Very waxy. In the background I detect a bit of cow stable, wet earth and sweet peat. Hint of sea breeze. A leaf of mint. Nice smoky touch, but less than in other releases, making it more accessible. Subtle salty edge. But the emphasis is clearly on the sweetness. Boy, this is a very complex animal.
    Nicely mouth coating and oily with dark fruits and chocolate up front, liquorice and smoked salmon in the middle, ashes and smoke in the back. Very complex and layered palate. Very spicy too. Mustard and pepper. Mild medicinal character. The smoke becomes grand.
    The finish should be called a finale. Everything returns once more and more (try saying that three times in a row!), with the smoke slowly clearling to allow the dark sweet fruit one more moment in the spotlights.
    Flabbergasting! I would describe this Brora as ‘dark’. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll agree, I’m sure. This bottle will set you back between 1500 and 2000 EUR today. Excuse me? Yup, it is the sad truth. Thanks for the sample, Robin!

  6. thijs100 scored this whisky 91 points Connoisseur

    The balance is what I'm most impressed with here, as has been the case before with these official releases.
    • Nose
      Supremely balance with just a whiff of wood smoke, but mainly apricots and candle wax, with a whisper of damp oak and furniture polish. Then oranges and lime, followed by some pink grapefruit. It has a lovely minerality to it as well. Hints of ozone too.
    • Taste
      Quite salty, with whispers of peat smoke and seaweed. Wet rocks too. Some chargrilled lemons and grapefruit, as well as black pepper, ginger and chalk. A good amount of leather. Fairly different from the nose, I'd say.
    • Finish
      Lingering spiciness, some menthol. A tad dry.

  7. ColdAesthetics scored this whisky 93 points Connoisseur

    I like it a lot because it's about the most fruity and light Brora I've had so far. Fits very well with the rest of the notes.
    • Nose
      Great wild farm apples, yellow and red, Boskop fresh from the tree, heather meadow, leather, quince, vanilla, herbal honey and toffee, lavender, rosemary, malt and oak, a little grapefruit peel, touch of salt
    • Taste
      Leather, heather meadow, wild honey, grapefruit and beautiful orange, pineapple even and lime, dark malt, chocolate chips, green apple later, salty chips, lavender, fennel, green tea, roiboos, sweet licorice
    • Finish
      Tea, malt, fine tannins, heather meadow, a little smoke, herb honey, long

  8. ASWhisky scored this whisky 91 points Connoisseur

    Ranking: 1st mouth, 2nd nose and finish Only the mouth could really convince the nose has too little tension and the aromas are too artificial The finish is long but not very nice the mouth has tension is delicious and good
    • Nose
      typical Brora nose, quite sweetish, Quince jelly, herbs, vanilla, slightly artificial sweetness, Borage, vanilla pudding with a splash of kirsch Cornfield in summer - warm and slightly dusty very sweet tropical fruits and bright butterscotch
    • Taste
      he is oily gentle and suddenly hot and snappy becomes smoky fruity and melts chocolate soft on your tongue Rinse many sweet fruity aromas on your palate, in your cheeks its smoke in your mouth tastes of butter toffee and oak Malt tingles on your tongue like freshly brewed bright tart beer with sweet dark malt taste
    • Finish
      long Malty taste tart and sweet, some fruit dry stays slightly bitter

  9. lincolnimp scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur


    On the nose it is more honeyed than before but water makes the bitterness is even more evident.

    It is pretty decent but far from perfect. I think the wood has got to it and the whisky was in the cask too long. I love Brora but this was a dissapointment.
    This cost £750 on release, its is not good enough by a long way, so I do not think I am being over critical
    This got many plaudits on its release, maybe I am am missing something, but some of the 30 year releases are much better than this IMHO.
    I hope that the remaining Brora stocks are bottled now, on this evidence.
    It will be interesting how this compares to the 2012 and the 2014?
    • Nose
      Quite sweet, honey, melon. menthol cough drops, cola cubes, stewed apples. Notes of furniture polish are the only negative.
    • Taste
      Its sweet but prickly alcohol wise, I would class it a smooth with a kick at the finish but there is also some bitterness.
      Taste wise I get bitter chocolate, faint hints of orange and honeycomb but the bitterness detracts from the enjoyment.
    • Finish

  10. lucero scored this whisky 91 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      90 90
    • Taste
      91 91
    • Finish
      91 91


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