I first sampled this North Starbottling of Royal Brackla in Berlin over a year ago at The Union Jack Pub. It left a positive impression of a pleasant, cheerful summery dram and I was curious to give it another go…
Royal Brackla 11 year (Oct 2006 /Feb 2018) 55.2%
Colour – Amber
Nose – Candied lemon peel, maple sugar, sweet spices, some herbs – particularly basil, give it a bit more time and apples, apricots, loads of sweet fruits, waxy and lightly perfumed
Palate – A bright spice, then the fruitiness carries through on the palate with substance, it is a bit oily with a slightly bitter hint that lends a bit of substance to all the orchard fruits
Finish – Nicely there… not long and lingering but quite pleasant
And with water? Much more approachable with the cheerful apple quality even more pronounced.
What I remember from our tasting a year ago was this whisky was sunshine and happiness, apples and apricots which carried through on the palate.
What I found most in this revisit? And when I returned a few times to sip again? Frankly I stopped even thinking about dissecting and distinguishing every element and instead just enjoyed – certainly a sign a rather good dram – particularly in the summer!
Bottled in Feb 2018, North Star’s Single Cask Series 004, refill hogshead, one of 272 bottles. I purchased this bottle in May 2020 during our COVID ‘shut-in’ from Sansibar for EUR 49.58 plus 19% tax. In my books, this makes it quite an affordable for an affable whisky.
And here are the fabulous North Star tasting notes:
Nose – Cooked apricots, muscovado sugar and flaked almonds
Palate – Strong fruit jam, pain au chocolate with bitter chocolate
Finish – Patisseries character, with fruits and spice
Royal favour has its benefits… including in the world of whisky.
The distillery was founded in 1812 by Captain William Fraser of Brackla House on the estate of Cawdor Castleand by 1833 was selected by King William the IV to be the royal court whisky. The distillery changed hands, had its ups and downs – including closing for some time in 1943-45 and 1964-66 then 1985-91.
And yet the “Royal” title remained, even as it changed hands eventually ending up as part of the Dewar & Sons portfolio.
We sampled this 21 year old whisky blind, with a reveal at the end. Here is what we thought…
Royal Brackla 21 year 40%
Nose – We were greeted with varnish, lime, sharp and direct, link control, medicinal soap, started to shift and become very sweet, cinnamon spice candy, bananas, hallowe’en corn candy, marshmallows, wood sap, toffee, burnt caramel, a puff of smoke, resin, white pear, leafy basil, curry leaf
Palate – Soft, a nice coating and well balanced, raisins and resin, a bit of chocolate, loads of wood, honey, with the 2nd sip was much spicier
Finish – Cinnamon spice – delicious!
Water – I never would have thought to try but others prompted – the whisky takes water quite well, opening up a complete fruit basket of aromas, butterscotch, rounds it out even more, with a lovely sweetness, revealing a nice fresh grassy element on the palate, surprisingly it also improved the mouthfeel
It was a rather nice way to finish up our Scottish traditional trio. Again it had the sense of being a combination of ex-bourbon with some ex-sherry too.
And the reveal?
A recognition this is a distillery we rarely encountered. Yet were pleased to do so that evening.
So what do the folks at Dewar (aka Barcardi) have to say? They have quite succinct tasting notes:
Richly fragrant with summer berries, dark chocolate, star anise, and a sherried sweetness.
Sometimes you just want to enjoy classic styled whiskies… with a flight that has a straight forward age progression from younger to older… no experimentation, just a standard combination of ex-bourbon cask and ex-sherry maturation.
That is exactly what we did this month, sampling each malt blind… And yet it wasn’t entirely as “traditional” an experience as one would think…
Our original tasting group went “traditional” with a Scottish trio:
For my part, I was keen to revisit a freshly opened bottle of the Torfa, having had a rather negative 1st experience a few years ago at Quaich in Singapore. And was equally curious what else Glenglassaugh had to offer. As for Inchmurrin? I had no pre-conceived notions… however found our tryst with Pendryn’s Madeira sufficiently interesting to be curious to compare.
The minis were followed by Royal Brackla 16 year 40%… just because it was already open and I hadn’t tried it yet… a most acceptable justification! Turned out to be a great food accompaniment.