Inside a ‘Ghost’ Distillery: Brora Re-Opens Its Doors After 38 Years
A select group of whisky fans around the world gathered virtually yesterday (May 19) to witness Scotch whisky history in the making: the reopening of iconic ‘ghost’ distillery Brora in Sutherland, Scotland. The 202-year-old distillery shuttered its doors for good in 1983 after a challenging period in the whisky industry. Since then, it has gained legendary status with historic bottlings such as the Brora 1972 Limited Edition 40-Year-Old, which was sold as part of Sotheby’s Ultimate Whisky Auction in 2019 for a record £54,450 (S$102,520).
Considered one of the lost icons of the whisky world, Diageo announced in 2017 its plans to bring back Brora Distillery through a massive £35 million investment plan that will also restore another acclaimed silent distillery, Port Ellen on Islay.
“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,” explained master distiller Stewart Bowman, who’s also the son of Brora’s last exciseman.
That said, the team rebuilt the Victorian-style distillery brick-by-brick using the original Brora stones and refurbished by hand the original pair of Brora stills to follow the distillery’s traditional distilling methods and replicate how it operated in the past. While the processes stay true to tradition, the new Brora has been transformed into a carbon-neutral site that's powered entirely by on-site renewable energy, to ensure a more sustainable future.
Now that it’s back in business, Brora will control its production of spirits by up to 800,000 litres a year. The distillery’s latest releases include the Brora Triptych, a trio of rare single malt whiskies that showcase the distillery’s distinct styles and storied heritage. Another offering that’s exclusive to its new home is The Brora Distillery Collection: Hidden Beneath, a Brora 1982 39-Year-Old.
From July onwards, the distillery will welcome small group of whisky enthusiasts to experience a new and enriched vision of the distillery. Added Bowman: “I want them to feel a connection to the past; to be able to understand the history of the place and to understand why we’ve put the distillery back together in the way that we have so that we can continue its legacy into future generations.” Bookings can be made here.