Good things are happening at the recently refurbished Brora distillery in Scotland, as Diageo restarts production after 38 years and a multi-million pound investment.
Back in the autumn of 2017, drinks giant Diageo pledged £35 million (US$46m) to restart production at previously mothballed distilleries in Port Ellen and Brora. Drinks fans the world over were pleased that two of the most collectible Scotch whiskies would be back in circulation, for the first time since 1983.
A year after their announcement, in October 2018, Diageo secured planning approval to restore Brora’s original buildings.
The Sutherland-based Brora distillery was taken down and painstakingly rebuilt, to replicate the site when it was new in 1819.
The renovated site is the results of a three-year project, and is now capable of another 200 years of production.
As one of Diageo’s smallest distilleries, Brora has the capacity to produce 800,000 litres of spirit annually.
Brora master distiller Stewart Bowman marked the official launch of the site, by opening the gates and filling the first cask of Brora spirit in more than 38 years. Bowman is a Sutherland native, whose father was the last exciseman at the distillery.
Bowman worked with industry specialists and archivists in reinstating the distillery and its spirit.
Speaking on the historic reopening he said:
“We have gone to every effort to replicate, as closely as possible, the conditions, equipment and processes from Brora in 1983 in order to recreate the spirit for which the distillery is famous.
“The original pair of Brora stills were carefully refurbished by our highly-skilled coppersmiths; we raised up the original pagoda roof to conduct intricate repairs, and rebuilt the stillhouse brick by brick using original Brora stone to restore this historic Victorian distillery.”
With every intention of future-proofing the new operation, the facility has also installed a biomass boiler powered by sustainably sourced wood chips from northern Scotland.
Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s president of supply chain and procurement, said: “This is a new dawn for Brora – a distillery that is a beautiful new jewel in the crown of our portfolio in Scotland.
“I am particularly proud that Brora will be a carbon-neutral distillery entirely powered by on-site renewable energy. This marks a major milestone on our journey to invest in Scotland, its rural communities and the future of Scotch whisky.”
Brora, which sits within the Diageo Reserve portfolio of premium-and-above spirits, recently released a trio of single malts aged from 38 to 48 years.
Brora will welcome a small number of visitors by appointment only from July. Tours will include tastings of rare Brora releases, and a new distillery-exclusive bottling, called The Brora Distillery Collection: Hidden Beneath, a Brora 1982 39 Year Old.
Islay-based Port Ellen is also due to begin production this year after Diageo received planning approval in January 2020.
In April, Brora announced it will release the Triptych whisky collection, featuring a trio of single malts ranging in age from 38 to 48 years old, priced at £30,000 ($41,450 USD) for the collection.