Brora Distillery

  • Scotland
Phone Number
  • Brora KW9 6LR, United Kingdom

Distillery with chimney in misty rural landscape.

History of Brora Distillery

Foundation and Early Years

Brora Distillery, originally known as Clynelish, was founded in 1819 by the Duke of Sutherland in the Highland village of Brora, Scotland. Its establishment was part of a broader economic plan involving the agricultural productivity of the region. The distillery was integral to the Duke’s estate, providing a market for barley produced by local farmers.

Transition to Brora and Production Changes

In 1967, a new distillery was built adjacent to the original Clynelish to expand production capacity due to high demand for its whiskies. The original distillery was then renamed Brora after a brief closure in 1968. During the early 1970s, Brora began producing a heavily peated malt whisky, a shift from its traditional style, to meet the demand for peated blends, particularly due to shortages from Islay. This period of heavily peated production lasted until around 1973, with peating levels eventually decreasing after 1977.

Closure and Legacy

The economic downturn of the 1970s, coupled with changing consumer preferences, led to an oversupply of Scotch whisky, termed the “whisky loch”. By the early 1980s, many distilleries faced closure due to excess inventory and Brora was no exception. It was deemed surplus to requirements by its then-owner, DCL (Distillers Company Limited), and was closed in 1983, marking the end of an era for the distillery.


After decades of silence, Brora was meticulously restored and officially reopened in 2021 by Diageo, the successor to DCL. The restoration aimed to revive the distillery’s storied past while introducing modern production techniques. Efforts were made to replicate the original distillate character, and some of the original production equipment was refurbished, including the stills and washbacks, to preserve the distillery’s heritage.

Modern Operations and Visitor Information

Today, Brora Distillery once again produces whisky, with a focus on capturing the essence of its historical expressions. The distillery, alongside Clynelish, has become a significant attraction for whisky enthusiasts, offering insights into the production of single malt Scotch whisky and the history of this iconic brand.

Brora is located near the town of Golspie and Dunrobin Castle, making it accessible for visitors travelling by car or public transport from Inverness. While Clynelish Distillery offers regular tours, Brora Distillery tours are available on a restricted or request basis, providing a unique opportunity to explore the past, present, and future of this legendary distillery.

Awards Won by Brora Distillery

40-Year-Old Anniversary Release: In 2019, to mark the 200th anniversary of Brora Distillery, Diageo launched a special 40-year-old Brora Scotch whisky. This release, one of the oldest from Brora, was drawn from vintage American oak hogshead casks from 1978, emphasizing the distillery’s long-standing tradition of excellence​​.

Charitable Contribution with Brora Iris: Diageo showcased its commitment to philanthropy by donating the first bottle of Brora Iris, a 50-year-old single malt whisky, to the Distillers One of One charity auction in 2023. This whisky, the oldest single malt expression released by Brora, was expected to raise between £250,000 and £500,000. The proceeds were aimed at supporting youth in Scotland through the Distillers’ Charity, highlighting Brora’s blend of exceptional whisky production and community support​​.

Brora Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The “Eras of Brora” tour is a bespoke experience that delves deep into the distillery’s rich heritage, allowing visitors to explore its historical depths, current operations, and future aspirations.

This tour is meticulously curated to include a three-course lunch featuring the finest local Scottish ingredients, complemented by exclusive tastings of the Brora Triptych and additional limited edition expressions.

Participants are also guided through a nosing of new make spirits, offering insights into the distillation processes of Clynelish and Lagavulin distilleries. This unique journey is available strictly by appointment, ensuring a personalized and intimate experience for every guest.

Flask & Barrel Review of Brora Distillery

I recently visited Brora Distillery and, as a whiskey collector who’s seen my fair share of distillery tours, I’ve gotta say, this one stands out. The “Eras of Brora” experience was top-notch, blending history with modern craftsmanship.

The three-course lunch was a delightful touch, showcasing local Scottish flavors that perfectly complemented the exclusive tastings. Getting to nose the new make spirits was a unique opportunity, especially for someone like me who appreciates the finer details of whiskey making.

Overall, I’d give it a solid 4.7 out of 5. The only thing holding me back from a full 5 is that, as a seasoned tour-goer, I crave even more depth into their distillation process. Nonetheless, Brora’s commitment to preserving its legacy while looking to the future was palpable and truly appreciated.

What To Do Nearby Brora Distillery

Dunrobin Castle & Gardens: A stately home with guided tours and falconry displays.

Brora Beach: A tranquil beach, perfect for spotting wildlife.

Carn Liath: An Iron Age Broch, offering a glimpse into ancient Scottish life.

Brora Heritage Centre: Delve into the village’s history from Norse occupation to its industrial heights.

Brora Golf Course: Challenge yourself at this scenic golf course designed by James Braid.

Loch Brora: Ideal for walking and cycling, offering stunning natural beauty.

Crakaig Beach: A secluded shore for a peaceful escape.

Duke of Sutherland Monument: Offers panoramic views after a steep hike.

Golspie Beach: Enjoy the sun and sea at this nearby village beach.

Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve: A haven for nature lovers with diverse wildlife.

Clynelish Distillery: Don’t miss a whisky tasting at this distillery close to Brora.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Brora Distillery?

Red Dragon Chinese Takeaway: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1408 622490. Their address is Red Dragon, Rosslyn St, Brora KW9 6NY, United Kingdom.

Sid’s Spice: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1408 621467. Their address is SId’s Spice takeaway, Station Square, Brora KW9 6QJ, United Kingdom.

The Curing Yard Restaurant: The Curing Yard Restaurant is located at 7 Golf Rd, Brora KW9 6QS, United Kingdom, within the Royal Marine Hotel, Brora. You can reach them for reservations or inquiries at +44 1408 910072.

What hotels are near Brora Distillery?

The Castle Hotel: It has a rating of 4.7 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1862 871345. Their address is Castle St, Portmahomack, Tain IV20 1YE, United Kingdom.

The Eagle Hotel: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1862 810008. Their address is Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SR, United Kingdom.

The Royal Marine Hotel, Brora: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +44 1408 621252. Their address is 7 Golf Rd, Brora KW9 6QS, United Kingdom.