Nose initially hits with sweet raisiny stuff, fresh raspberries, big toffee, and some coffee notes. Then there's chalk, spices like cinnamon, and hints of pipe tobacco. After time, oranges and chocolate come out. A nice, complex nose that gets quite magnificent as it opens up. Palate is full of rich raisins again, and quite sherried. Dates, plums, yum!! Toffee for sure. As the finish hits, sweet cigar aspects take over for a moment (sort of like you'd wish eating a sweet-smelling cigar might taste, even though it wouldn't). Light mint comes and goes. As this lingers on for a long time, yellow cake really becomes prominent. I don't get any smoke in here at all. The oak is really nicely balanced, it's there just enough to keep in check the deep, dark, dried fruit stuff. This is a super-tasty, balanced, not-to-sweet, not-too-dry, lip-smacking, very layered and complex sherried treat. Relax and spend some time with a glass of this, it really changes and turns, showing very markedly different aspects every few minutes or so -- much more so than many other excellent whiskies I've tasted. Winner!! A/A-
In side-by-side comparison to Brora 1981 Signatory Cask 1517, distilled on the same day, only 3 cask numbers apart, but bottled 600 days earlier (1 year, 7 months and change):
Very different altogether. The nose on 1520 is sweeter and much more raspberry-jammier, and overall just bigger and richer. 1517 (the younger) has a pronounced white-wine nose in comparison, with a little tinge of good glue. The palate on the younger is notably smokey, though a very mild smoke, which is particularly present in the finish. And in 1517 the spices are much more prominent, especially on the palate and crossover to the finish. The minty stuff is also much more pronounced in 1517, and on the original tasting of that one I called it a pine/evergreen sort of thing, which it is much more so than it's "slightly minty" in 1520. Altogether, the younger is a very great and delicious malt, but given the choice I would prefer the older one (this profile you're viewing). But please send more of both!
N: Brown sugar (wet) and I swear, no joke, creamed spinach. And some peat, shoe polish, and then a lot of plums. P: Well howdy doody time (wtf?), a very well integrated combo of sherry and peat, dominated by the plums from the nose. F: Some odd veggie notes in the finish, good but unusual. Great stuff.