So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Royal Brackla 33 yo 1976 #6920 Mackillop’s Choice vs Royal Brackla 30 yo 1984/2015 Cadenhead

Like Royal Lochnagar and Glenury Royal, Brackla has a story on how it got its Royal prefix. No, you cannot use ‘Royal’ as your given name in the UK, this term is under statutory protection. In Brackla’s case this happened back in 1835 when Captain William Fraser (of Brackla) began supplying Whisky to the court of King William IV. This early date means Brackla was the first of the trio to enjoy this boon.

By the time it passed to SMD in 1943, Brackla had been rebuilt once, and then again in 1965, when steam heating and shell condensers replaced direct firing and worm tubs. So this distillery had been modernized from fairly early. Another notable date is 1970, when Brackla was expanded to 4 stills from 2. And so on it went, providing malt used mainly for blending purposes, till 1985, when the industry downturn forced the closure of a great number of missed distilleries, Brackla enjoyed a fate better than some others as it was soon reopened in 1991, being fairly recently upgraded.


brackla-distillery-2 (whisky.com)

The next major move came in 1998 when it was sold to John Dewar & Sons under Bacardi ownership. According to writers, this sale to the Dewars company did not include the maturing stock, which therefore still belongs to Diageo. Dewars seems to have a enlightened philosophy over Brackla, and the magnificent Dave Broom writes that the owners maintain a relaxed distillation regime with slow mashing, clear wort, long fermentation and slow distillation to encourage reflux action to give this spirit ‘estery-ness and intensity’.

Pot Stills


Another point of interest, which I am sure you may have already discovered on other whisky sites, is that Royal Brackla is notable for being one of the first Single Malts to be released in the ultra age statement category – a 60 year old distilled in 1924 and given to staff and guests at the distillery’s reopening in 1991. As you expect, this is utterly unimaginable today.

For a long time, and due to Dewar’s purposeful inattentions, Royal Brackla did not have an official core range under the Bacardi group. But if you were to frequent the duty free at the airport, you might see these handsome blue labelled age-statement bottles  (12yo, 16yo, 21yo) that nonetheless signify a somewhat careless attempt at single malt – 40%, chill filtered… Seriously? That’s downmarket ground…


Royal Brackla 33 yo 1976 #6920 Mackillop’s Choice 43%


Nose Nose: Old style and aged. Everyone should have a chance to nose this, as different from the modern young stuff as night and day. Cracking yellowed varnish and ancient oak tables. Deep waxes and the most comfortable leather armchair. Mellow and unrushed, sink into a dream with this one but consider well its quiet depth. Some wet earth and mouldering leaves, dried out vanilla pods. Round but with hints of a bitter bark or dried out leafsap.

Taste Palate: Indeed supremely smooth and mellow, redolent with 18th century oak and varnishes and worn leather. Melt all of the above and add dried out waxes, and old pots and pans. Touch or two of nutmeg. The low strength has taken its toll however, and this ought to be more powerful. It almost feels like this could be any very very old speysider though. Is individuality always an inevitable trade off?

Finish Finish: Long and somewhat weak but not short on development and it doesn’t let go easily either. Bark? Roots?


An old speysider, long aged and mature, without sherry influence. Great.


Royal Brackla 30 yo 1984/2015 Cadenhead Single Cask 54.1%


Nose Nose: What.. almost the same whisky just +11% alcohol! Such a mellow texture despite the alcohol kick. This one has more of a gritty charcoal edge and wood spiciness.. also more on over ripe bananas and rolled tobacco. A runny honey glaze. Baked apricot tarts. Cedarwood. Ok a lot more going on here.

Taste Palate: Well, still fresh and spritely! Great mouthcoating oily feel, and quite sharp with these citrus zests, which develops into a mass of vegetal notes exploding with various sour and bitter overtones. Waxy old wood/old leather undercurrent all the while.

Finish Finish: Long long long, herby vegetal sour bitter tones, mixed wine gums etc varied and changing. Very good.


This one really sticks to the inside of my glass too, needed soap and sponge. Great development and great texture. Definitely worth an olfactory visit.

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This entry was posted on November 12, 2016 by in Royal Brackla and tagged , , .
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