In 1969 there was a drought on the Isle of Islay, traditional supplier of the blended whisky industry’s peated malt and a particularly important ingredient in the popular Johnnie Walker blends. To maintain supplies, the original Clynelish distillery, built in 1819, was reopened to supply heavily peated whisky. But as a new, larger distillery, bearing the Clynelish name, had been opened across the road the previous year, the reopened distillery, for the short time that it was in production, was renamed after the nearest town: Brora.
The unique heavily peated Highland malt produced in this period is now one of the most sought-after brands in Scotch whisky, with bottles typically changing hands for hundreds of pounds. Clynelish is already a cult favourite among whisky connoisseurs, but will always stand in the monumental shadow of its big brother. Those lucky enough to have tried it speak of layers upon layers of thick peat smoke, heavy oak (most expressions available now are 30+ years old), hay-like farmyard aromas and that phenomenal spice that remains the trademark of modern Clynelish. When the last drop is finally bottled (can’t be long now), the world of Scotch whisky will surely bow their heads in grief.