Clynelish, probably one of my very favorite Whisky distilleries. I cannot even remember having a bad one ever. I would love to try a Brora some day… Let’s go for their amazing standard first and then see what we have (oh dear, it used to be a lot more…).
Clynelish 14YO (OB, 46%): This is a bottle I always have at home. Nothind beats its bang-for-buck ratio in my view. Nose: Initially slightly sharp but the alcohol quickly fades away to open up the way for spices, slightly salty, maritime notes, mellow malt, very clearly apple sauce, citrus, just a whiff of licorice and something close to honey or beeswax. It doesn’t have a lot of the famous waxiness though. Palate: At first we get the salty aromas which inevitably make me think of the sea. It’s not unlike some Islay Whisky in that sense, just without the smoke. Then sweet malt, a hint of herbs, orange marmelade, apricot, seabuckthorn and in the background once again very weakly the licorice. With the third and fourth sip I also find some of the apple sauce and citrus that were oh so prominent in the nose, but now they just play a very minor role. Finish: Relatively long and oily with sandy notes, seabuckthorn and spices. I think it is pretty obvious that this is a Whisky I know very well and like a lot. At this price you just cannot go wrong and we should be incredibly happy to have standards like this. Yet we are miles away from reaching the distillery’s ceiling. (86/100)
The Whisky Cask Clynelish 2008 9YO (54,3%): Isn’t it awesome when bottlers give you the chance of buying samples of their releases as well!? Just one of many reasons why The Whisky Cask/ The Rum Cask is one of my very favorite IBs. Nose: Mild honey, vanilla, sweet passion fruit purée, mango, citrus and banana to mention just some of the fruits in this one, beeswax, caramel and a maturity that indicates much more than your typical 9YO Whisky. Mouth watering! At the palate we find that the predominently exotic fruits joined the more continental ones such as apples or quince. The citrus notes are omnipresent and form a lovely symbiosis with the beeswax, vanilla and now also crème brûlée. Now salted caramel and sweet popcorn. Very, very nice, this is what a young Whisky should taste like! Finish: Even though rather small, it is quite nice with hints of grenadine and raspberries. When not peated, young Whiskies can be tricky, but this is just an excellent demonstration of how it can work just fine nevertheless. (87/100)
Gordon & MacPhail Clynelish 2005 12YO (55,1%): Bitter oranges, toffee, warm butter, guava, soursop, wild honey, vanilla/ caramel and a spice or two which I cannot really attribute form the start of the nose. Crucially, it isn’t a very typical Clynelish, even though the nose is extremely nice if you ask me. And while I don’t like rhubarb really, it can be found in there as well. Palate: I wasn’t wrong, the rhubarb is there again, paired with vanilla first and foremost. Then caramel, guava, papaya and black tea. Oh yeah, this works very well. The flavour profile is extremely nice, the texture is fine, it is just that I am missing some of the typical elements. Finish: Medium long with soursop, oak and milk chocolate. A very nice, yet not entirely typical Clynelish. By the way, this is a refill Sherry butt, but frankly, it could have been any other type of barrel. This tells me how little we should give about these indicators. (87/100)
Signatory Vintage Local Dealer’s Selection Clynelish 1996 21YO (53,3%): The Local Dealers are a group of German Whisky sellers, among them is also the Brühler Whiskyhaus, who are known for their ‘A Dream of Scotland’ bottlings but also their rum line ‘Rumdealer’s Selection’. Nose: Sweet and fruity with red and dark berries, caramel, sloe, salt, oranges, vanilla, tonka, raisin, galia melon, oak of course, some of the characateristic wax and Kinder chocolate. What a monster this is! Palate: The chocolate again, canned cherries, dark stone fruits, pepper, nutmeg, nougat, rich bread, currants, mokka, chocolate cake, dark caramel and we could go on and on and on. While the taste is not as legendary as the nose, it is still really amazing. Finish: Very long and rich with tobacco, wood, leather, salted caramel and some stone fruits. Wow, just wow. The nose is otherworldy and would be deep 90s territory. The rest is still quite good. (90/100)