Plans to revive long-lost ghost distilleries have been revealed in recent years. There is no better time than now to revive the historical distilleries that were closed during the most difficult period in Scotch Whisky’s history. None have been restored in the same way as the Brora Distillery. They preserved the site as closely as possible to the original location that was closed in 1983. This is to restore the site’s former glory and to preserve its rich history.
It feels as though an army of collectors has passed through the site. They are the ones who meticulously preserve their collectibles. The same goes for Brora. The site is so evocative that it makes you feel like you are in a time machine. Andrew Flatt, the Brand Home Host for the distillery, begins the tour with coffee and newspaper clippings. He also shares stories about the history of the Brora distillery. This section of the tour shows how vital the site was once to the community. It created many jobs and brought visitors and customers alike to the area. You can also see how the renovated site looks compared to the one from the past and how hard the restoration team worked.
It has been closed for nearly four decades. According to all accounts, the doors were locked and workers left without believing that the site would reopen. It’s amazing to see the records and what the team has found. Flatt said that this was necessary to restore the site to its former glory, and to keep it as close to its past as possible. Many brands will choose to renovate old sites. Diageo wanted everything to be the same, from brick buildings to old pot stills. It was reopened nearly one year ago on May 19, th 2021. Original stills can be used while famed stone buildings have been brought back brick by brick. Flatt says that locals were invited to visit the site to share any stories about the distillery’s past. This was done to assist a number of engineers, tasters and archivists in finding and restoring what made Brora distillery truly Brora.
The original stills of Brora whisky were restored and moved 200 miles across Scotland to revive it. Flatt claims that the true feat occurred at the distillery when the pagoda roof was removed and the stills were carefully dropped into the distillery before the stone walls were rebuilt around.
Jackie Robertson, currently Master Distiller at Brora, joins us for our tour. Robertson spent time in the Glenlossie and Talisker distilleries before moving to Brora to revitalize the historic style. Robertson mentions the commitment of the team to restoring old distillation processes using traditional rakes and gear mashes, as well as other traditional equipment. The distillery will be carbon neutral thanks to technical advancements and a biomass boiler. Jim Beveridge was the master blender at Diageo and had to remember tasting Brora’s new blend back in the 80s. Many tasters and archivists sifted through the distillery records, notes, drawings, and plans to create the Brora spirit. The team worked back from stills and used old tasting records and notes, some of the older stock in the warehouses, as well as expert tasters to recreate the whisky that is Brora.
We end our tour in the tasting room, where Flatt and Robertson lead us through the Brora Triptych releases. The Triptych is a truly historic set. It contains the three Brora spirit styles: the 1972 Elusive Legacy (48 years old), the 1977 Age of Peat (43/year-old) and the 1982 Timeless Original (32/year-old). Each of these three stories tells a different story about Brora, and they are all equally delicious. There are only 300 sets of these available. This luxury tour, called the “Eras of Brora”, includes a tasting of them. You can also take the ‘Brora Reawakened tour, which includes a tasting at the 39-Year Old Brora distillery.
Enjoy a delicious lunch featuring local ingredients and a few more whiskies to go with each course. As I walk past the famous Brora gate, it is clear that I am a bigger Brora fan than ever before and why the preservation of this site was so important for whisky lovers around the world. Collectors from the US, Europe, Asia and Asia have sought out Brora bottlings over the last few decades. Although there is a lot of pressure on a brand like Brora Whisky to reopen, the team behind the project and their overall approach have made me proud to be a Brora Whisky fan. The best part is that there are many more things to come out of the revived Brora whisky distillery.