Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Royal Brackla. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The Royal Brackla distillery is located northeast of Inverness, Scotland, the largest city in the Scottish Highlands. The distillery was founded in 1812 and a short two decades later — 1833 to be exact — was awarded a Royal Warrant by King William IV, becoming the first Scotch to be honored as such (thus the right to use the honorific “Royal” in its name). Royal Brackla changed ownership several times over the last century and was even closed for a period in the mid 1980s, before it was “resurrected” in 1990. Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held spirits company, owns the Dewar’s Aberfeldy brand which, in turn, counts Royal Brackla as one of its labels.
This 18-year-old expression is the middle release in a new range of single malts from the distillery – the other two bookend at 12 and 21-year-old expressions. The whisky is finished in Palo Cortado Sherry casks and has no added caramel coloring, nor does it undergo any chill filtration. According to Royal Brackla Malt Master, Stephanie Macleod, “The casks from this unusual Sherry were chosen to finish the 18-year-old because it brings citrus notes and builds flavours of creamy vanilla, spices and soft fruits.”
In what I found to be a somewhat underwhelming expression from a storied distillery, this single malt is pleasant, but in this case, I’m damming with faint praise. For the fairly steep suggested retail price of $299, I think it’s fair to expect a little more. If you enjoy a mellow, Sherry-finished whisky, it’s not that you won’t like this – you will – I just caution you may feel a little price-burned for what you experience.
Tasting Notes: Royal Brackla Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Vital Stats: Aged 18 years. The whisky is finished in Palo Cortado Sherry casks. Mash Bill: Malted Scottish barley from Bairds Maltsters in Inverness, Scotland. 700 ml. 46% ABV, 92 Proof. SRP $299.99
Appearance: A light, yellow gold.
Nose: Subtle and mellow at first blush, with green apple, and a pleasant airy oakiness. The sherry’s influence is there, but it took a few good sniffs to lock it down.
Palate: I experienced a perfectly likeable combination of honey, fruit, and Sherry. I enjoyed the medium-long finish, maybe most of all, with the spice and vanilla staying strong while introducing a balanced complexity I didn’t experience up front.