Diageo breathes life into Brora ghost distillery with new 40-yo expression

By Charlotte Turner |

Diageo-Brora-40-year-whisky-leadGlobal drinks giant, Diageo, has announced that the revered ‘ghost distillery’, Brora will reveal one of its oldest ever releases, a year ahead of its re-opening.


This is the first commercial release from Brora since the 2017 Special Releases and will be available in travel retail at the suggested retail price of £4,000.


“Brora 40-Year-Old is a limited-edition Single Malt bottled to commemorate two centuries in the lifetime of a distilling icon,” explains Diageo.


Drawn from one dozen casks of vintage stocks from 1978, each of the 1,819 bottles, reflecting the year the distillery opened, offers a glimpse into Brora’s past.


Diageo Global Travel has also announced that a small portion of these exclusive bottles will be available to travellers in selected destinations; with just 137 bottles on shelf in travel retail.



Anna MacDonald, Marketing and Innovation Director, Diageo Global Travel.


Anna MacDonald, Marketing and Innovation Director, Diageo Global Travel says: “Brora 40-Year-Old is an extraordinary limited-edition Single Malt that we are thrilled to offer within travel retail. Highly sought after, this exceptional offering will be sure to appeal to the finest whisky drinkers and collectors alike.”


Brora was founded in 1819 on the Sutherland coast in North East Scotland and in 1983, the historic distillery was closed. In the years since, the whisky resting within its final casks, developed an ‘extraordinary rich complexity’ through further ageing, and scarce releases ‘found the highest acclaim’.


After 36 years, in 2020 Brora’s gates will re-open, following a meticulous, brick-by-brick restoration, which is currently underway, to bring the legendary whisky house back to life.



“Brora 40-Year-Old is a limited-edition Single Malt bottled to commemorate two centuries in the lifetime of a distilling icon,” explains Diageo.

To welcome this new era and celebrate the past craftsmen that made Brora over its 200-year history, comes this new release, a 40-year-old expression. Diageo Master Blender Dr Craig Wilson has selected just twelve American oak hogshead casks from Brora’s vintage stocks to celebrate a moment of the distillery’s history: The Age of Peat.



Dr Craig Wilson explains: “Of all the stories of Brora, there is one that seemed particularly fitting to tell on its 200th Anniversary. From 1969-83, there was a new experimentation phase in production and the Brora distillers created a smoky malt using heavily-peated Northern Highland barley.


“Used primarily in blends at the time, the few casks that are left from this Age of Peat, matured remarkably well and what remains is a multi-layered and complex Single Malt of astonishing quality. Little did the craftsmen at the time know, they had created a masterpiece.


“It is emblematic of the varied past of the distillery that makes it so special to all that know it: a humble story of experimentation, craft and happy coincidence.”


In searching for the casks for this release, Wilson worked alongside the Diageo Archive Team that had unearthed original Brora production records as part of their ongoing work to assist in the distillery restoration.


This allowed the master blender to identify the years at which this now revered smoky style of Brora was at its peak, and following careful nosing of the individual casks, Dr Wilson made his selection: a 1978 40-year-old Single Malt of immense complexity that perfectly reflected this moment of Brora’s past.


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