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Treasures of Brora's lost distillery to go on sale in biggest ever auction

By Calum MacLeod

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Some 50 bottles of Brora whisky are on offer - the largest number for sale at a single auction.
Some 50 bottles of Brora whisky are on offer - the largest number for sale at a single auction.

Whisky-lovers worldwide are expected to bid for a rare chance to own a bottle produced by one of Scotland's great "lost distilleries", Brora.

Since its closure in 1983, the whisky made at the Sutherland distillery has become increasingly sought-after and prized by colllectors for its quality, extreme rarity and unique history, with some connoisseurs even reputed to travel around the world for a taste.

Specialist auction house, Whisky Auctioneer, is to host the first ever dedicated Brora whisky auction this month from April15 to 19 on www.whiskyauctioneer.com.

This will showcasing over 50 Brora bottles, as part of the largest collection of Brora ever to be held in one auction.

The auction will include extremely scarce expressions from the Old Clynelish distillery, now known as Brora, distilled prior to its brief closure in the late 1960s. According to Whisky Auctioneer, these rarities are celebrated for an highly idiosyncratic style and elusive waxy character that cannot be replicated in modern whiskies.

The sale will also feature various expressions from the historic 1972 Brora vintage. These include the 1972 Cask Strength 40 Year Old decanter, the oldest Brora ever released at the time and a sibling to some of the most legendary expressions ever produced at the distillery.

Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer, said: “Few distilleries manifest more allure than Brora, and certainly none so effortlessly. It’s therefore striking to see an auction dedicated to so many rare Brora bottles. Whether you are a whisky collector or lost distillery enthusiast, this is a one of a kind opportunity to get your hands on these special Brora bottles, many of which are rarely seen on the secondary market.

“The Brora auction encapsulates the distillery’s past as it prepares to turn on the stills to its future with the chance to bid on complete collections and rare Single Malts created prior to the distillery’s halt in production in 1983 – a timely reminder to revisit these legendary malts and that ‘lost distilleries' are not always lost forever.”

Clynelish Distillery circa 1905.
Clynelish Distillery circa 1905.

Emmanuel Dron, founder and co-owner of the Auld Alliance and Author of Collecting Scotch Whisky, added: “Brora is a legendary malt, often talked about in whisky circles. Such a revered spirit and so hard to find, devotees from across the world have made visits especially to the Auld Alliance in Singapore simply to have the chance to try the exceptional spirit distilled at Brora.

“This auction allows whisky lovers and lost distillery enthusiasts to get a hold of some of these rare bottles, including even Scotch Malt Whisky Society's 61.1, the first ever bottling of Brora single malt. With the Brora auction following the announcement that the distillery is to be re-awakened, it provides an opportunity to honour its venerated past, while building excitement towards its future.“

Other highlights in the exclusive auction have only appeared for sale on very rare occasions, if ever. A star lot is Bottle #1 of a 1978 Brora bottled at 41 years of age under Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme. One of only 60 bottles in the world, this is the first time it will have ever appeared for sale.

Primarily composed of bottles from Pat’s Whisk(e)y Collection, the largest private whiskey collection ever to come to market, the auction also features the complete collection of Brora bottled under the sought-after Rare Malts Selection and Special Releases. Pat’s wider collection features the complete collection from both series, an impressive accomplishment totalling over 250 of the highly limited bottles.

Brora Distillery shares an intertwined history with Clynelish. A victim of its own success, the owners of the Clynelish distillery decided to build a secondary distillery next door due to its growing reputation. Following a brief period where the distilleries were simply referred to as "Clynelish A" and "Clynelish B', the original distillery was renamed Brora in 1969.

Over the next few years, Brora produced a heavily-peated single malt, comparable to the whiskies of Islay. This mini era of production has become a storied part of the distillery's history, before they started reducing peat once again in 1973.

The auction comes as Brora Distillery prepares to re-open later this year. Brora was one of 11 distilleries that closed in the Spring of 1983 following the "whisky loch" crisis resulting in massive over-production.

To register to take part in the Exclusive Brora auction, visit www.whiskyauctioneer.com

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