Royal Brackla – 30yo 1984 Cadenhead’s Single Cask
(Bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles, 54.1%)
Brackla used to be very obscure – there was even uncertainty about whether it was technically in Speyside or the Highlands for a time – but they’re recently released some official bottlings (none of which I have tried, or even seen, as yet) so maybe they’ll become better known. I think that everyone now agrees it is a Highlands distillery at least…
Nose: Very soft, subtle and complex. I’d go as far as “classy” even. Madeleines, marmalade and Earl Grey tea. Gives the impression of being “old”, like a study filled with leather, wood and pipe smoke (or maybe one of those leather sofas by the fireplaces at The Vaults in Leith!). A beautiful hickory wood smokiness too, just hanging in the background. Some liquorice and dark fruits (think fruits of the forest) too. Just gorgeous.
Taste: Those fruits are right upfront: blueberries and blackberries. Then you get some sharper fruits: orange, apple and lemon drops. There’s a lovely long liquorice note that runs right through it on into the finish. Lots of subtleties here, but it’s really cohesive. That’s three decades in a good cask for you. Water is not needed, in fact I prefer it without.
Finish: Peppery and liquoricey. More oranges. Dark chocolate. Lots of smoked almonds. Not massively long, but just insanely pleasant.
This is so far up my alley that it has knocked over the bins. A really memorable, perfectly balanced and simply delicious old whisky.