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Diageo donates 50YO Brora to charity auction

The first bottle of a 50-year-old Brora single malt whisky has been donated by Diageo to the Distillers One of One charity auction.

Brora 50yo
Brora Iris is the oldest single malt expression to be released by the Highland distillery

Described as a one-of-a-kind piece of art, Brora Iris is the oldest single malt to have been bottled by the Diageo-owned whisky distillery.

Jonny Fowle, head of whisky at Sotheby’s, said: “Few distilleries in the world conjure such majesty and awe as Brora and the opportunity that this one-off art piece and incredible whisky presents puts this item as one of the top lots within the auction.

“Having tasted it myself, I can say that this is a truly exceptional Brora.”

Created in collaboration with a number of artists and craftspeople, the 1.5-litre Brora Iris decanter has been designed to ‘capture the awakened spirit’ of the Sutherland-based distillery, and represents the eye of a Scottish wildcat.

The stone sculpture has been hewn from the same limestone that was used to build Brora Distillery by Scotland-based sculptor and artist Michelle De Bruin.

The bronze wildcat figure that acts as a key to the decanter has been cast by one of the UK’s leading animalier sculptors, Jonathan Knight.

Brora Iris master blender Dr Craig Wilson has described the single malt as having “a style that has come to define the Brora iconic status”, having been crafted only during ‘fleeting periods’ of the distillery’s past.

Whisky expert Charles MacLean described the whisky as having an aroma that “opens a door to the past and reveals Brora: perfectly presented, alive today and correct in every detail”.

Further tasting notes include a light oil-smooth texture on the palate that introduces a rich taste that starts smoky-sweet with hints of autumn wood smoke, honeycomb and vanilla fudge.

The finish is said to have a good length, gently warming the palate with gingery spice and a little black pepper catch, before fading to leave a last thread of smoke and a candlewax-smoky aftertaste.

Auction estimates

Bidding for Brora Iris will open 14 September, and the ultra-rare spirit is expected to fetch between £250,000-£500,000 (US$317,023-$634,047) when it goes under the hammer at the One of One auction event hosted on 5 October at Hopetoun House, Edinburgh, in partnership with Sotheby’s.

The proceeds raised from the sale of the auction will be donated to the Distillers’ Charity, principally to the Youth Action Fund, dedicated to transforming the lives of young people in Scotland.

Javier Ferrán, Diageo chairman, said: “We are delighted to be able to support The Distiller’s Charity with the donation of Brora Iris to the upcoming Distillers One of One auction. We look forward to seeing the industry’s contribution benefit the young people and communities that the charity supports across the length and breadth of Scotland.”

Founded in 1819, Brora Distillery garnered early acclaim for the quality of its spirit and craftsmanship. When the stills fell silent in 1983, Brora soon earned world renown as one of the ‘lost icons’ of the whisky world, with historic bottlings eagerly sought out by collectors to set auction records.

In 2021, distilling recommenced at Brora after the distillery was restored as part of a major investment by Diageo.

It now welcomes small groups of visitors by appointment only in limited numbers, and releases ‘highly sought-out’ capsules of historic whisky from its ‘ghost’ stock.

The eventual owner of Brora Iris will also be invited to explore the reawakened distillery with five guests, and will be guided by distillery host Andrew Flatt through a tasting experience.

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