Review: Royal Brackla 12yo, 16yo and 21yo

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Back in September John Dewar & Sons Ltd. released a new range of bottlings from Royal Brackla distillery. They released a 12yo, a 16yo and a 21yo, all at 40% abv. The fairly tall and slow run stills help to give a delicate and light spirit.

Let’s take a look at the three of them…

royal-brackla-12-year-old-whiskyRoyal Brackla 12yo – 40% abv

Info: Oloroso finished.
Colour: Light clear gold.
Nose: Sprightly, light and grassy, with sweet malty tones and hints of nuts and herbs.
Palate: Light and easy, gentle and summery, with a pinch of spices and sweet grassy malt. Hold it on your tongue for long enough and older oak notes start to come forward. Hints of crushed nuts.
Finish: Packed with flavour and therefore surprisingly longer than expected; gently warming and spicy, with a lingering but tamed tannin dryness at the end. There’s also a slight tropical freshness too.
Thoughts: A nice easy going malt, good quality stuff. It builds from start the finish. Ultimately not entirely memorable, but a fairly good step up from something of a similar ilk like a Glenfiddich 12yo.
Available: Master of Malt – £41.75


royal-brackla-16-year-old-whiskyRoyal Brackla 16yo – 40% abv

Info: Oloroso finished.
Colour: Gleaming gold. Quite oily legs.
Nose: The nose is quite a step up from the 12yo. This is has a much older profile on the nose, a little more herbal; more nuts and there’s more barley malt than grass now. Overripe mushy red apples.
Palate: The palate is very easy, nicely sweet and balanced between gentle plummy fruits, malty tones and older hints of leather and oaks which appear after a while on the tongue. Hints of spice after a while.
Finish: The finish is warming, quite long, nutty and has hints of smoke possible from cask char. Barley malt wins out to the end.
Thoughts: This is quite a step up from the 12yo, with the 4 extra years giving it a greater depth. If it were a touch thicker with oils it would be a real belter.
Available: Master of Malt – £71.75


royal-brackla-21-whiskyRoyal Brackla 21yo – 40% abv

Info: Oloroso finished.
Colour: Sprightly gold.
Nose: A much older nose than the 12yo and even the 16yo… it’s more woody and sappy – which smells fresh and young (in a good way, not in a rushed oak maturation type of way). The herbal quality in the 16yo is outshone here, here it’s bigger and bolder, and with a nice sweetness that underlines everything with a brown sugar and older dry malt note.
Palate: The palate feels a touch thicker than the others, although even thicker would be nice. It’s somewhat more spicy that the 12 and 16, an older oak spice. The nicely integrated sweetness matches up perfectly with the wood oaks and older malt and herbal tones. There’s pulped up winter berries, with raspberry pips. The palate gets more and more enjoyable the longer you hold it on your tongue and explore. There’s melted milk chocolate and raisins.
Finish: The finish is long enough, but you almost want it to be longer. It’s oily because of tannin led oak oils which give it a gentle but quality bit of depth, and it gives you a lovely warming quality on your chest. There’s a slight cardboardy note.
Thoughts: Very tasty and enjoyable older malt, crying out for a little bit of extra oiliness. That said, it’s full of flavour and you can spend lots of time exploring and enjoying this malt, yummy stuff.
Available: Master of Malt – £150


General Thoughts: An interesting range to rival many a good Speysider. On this tasting I probably enjoyed the 16yo the best. The 12 wasn’t quite exciting enough for me, and although the 21 was packed with flavour to explore, the 16 probably falls nicely in the middle as a very drinkable dram.

Thanks to Royal Brackla for the samples.

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