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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 10, 2014


I can’t resist Clynelish

Except for a few vintages, especially around the late 1970s, I think Clynelish has always been brilliant. It’s like a ‘grand cru’ in my book, it’s instantly recognisable and will never let you down. It’s like a great vineyard, and just like wine, I believe Clynelish means civilisation. Okay, that may be a notch far-fetched ;-). Anyway, we’ll start with a nice little aperitif again…

Clynelish 1983/1996 ‘Vintage’ (40%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co. For VA.MA Italy)

Clynelish 1983/1996 ‘Vintage’ (40%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co. For VA.MA Italy) Five stars A very rare bottle that I had not seen before, in almost the same livery as the famous Finlaggans/Lagavulins from the same era. 1983 was a fab vintage at Clynelish. Colour: white wine. Nose: apples, soot and waxes explode into your nose, this is amazing. A beekeeper opening a hive while burning hessian to create a lot of cold smoke (to calm the bees). Also limestone, burning charcoal, kumquats and quinces. The low strength just doesn’t feel, such is this spirit’s bigness. Mouth: astounding, we’re in peated territories, there is a Broraness to this. I find quite some salt, lemons, tangerines, plenty of waxes, touches of brine, a few oysters, even a feeling of seaweed… It’s a very coastal Clynelish! Just the middle is a notch weaker, probably because of the low strength. Finish: a decent length length, though, always briny, with more lemon and seawater, and rather less wax at this point. Comments: this at 50% vol. would be a pure legend. Loses points because of the relative weakness of the palate. SGP:553 - 90 points.

Now, let’s have a few from the mid to late 1990s…

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.5%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon)

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.5%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: the bourbon wood’s rather loud at first nosing, with quite a lot of vanilla and toffee plus a little wood smoke. That may mask a bit distillery character, let’s see what happens with water. With water: there is an Ardmoreness now, which is very fine, but it would rather be an Ardmore all on tinned peaches and apricots. Mouth (neat): I do not know if it’s the oak again, but I rather find a lot of garden fruits, and not much wax and Clynelishness. Apple liqueur, cherry liqueurs, vanilla… Also bags of gooseberries. I love gooseberries, but I wouldn’t eat tons of them. Certainly very good, but not very Clynelish. With water: even sweeter. Fruit juice, fruit salad. Finish: medium length. Tinned fruits. Comments: it’s good, no doubt, but had I tried it blind, I’d have said it could have been Glenmorangie. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (54%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon hogshead, cask #88008)

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (54%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon hogshead, cask #88008) Four stars Colour: dark straw. Nose: another country, another galaxy. This, is Clynelish. Much more power, more waxes, more soot, even more ashes, more earth… Hurray! With water: perfect. Some mint and camphor come out, which is even more perfect. Mouth (neat): it’s as fruity as the 1997 by the same excellent bottler, but they’re rather lemons and tangerines, with a perfect zestiness and this ‘chiselled’ side that I enjoy so much in Clynelish. Impeccable, this one. With water: some salt coming out, herbs, herbal teas, liquorice… Finish: long, slightly salty, piny. Comments: all good. Very Clynelish. SGP:553 - 87 points.

Clynelish 1997/2013 (54.5%, Malts of Scotland, warehouse dram No.2, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13058, 185 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2013 (54.5%, Malts of Scotland, warehouse dram No.2, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13058, 185 bottles) Four stars and a half I’m not always a huge fan of sherried Clynelish, but let’s see what gives… Colour: dark gold. Nose: cancel that, this is a great nose, because it’s no lumpy sherry. I wouldn’t say Clynelish’s character still stands out, but I find these notes of mustardy walnuts rather superb. Love the coffee as well. With water: pastis and chestnuts!  Mouth (neat): gosh, it works again! Plenty of bitter oranges with touches of chillies and pepper, then walnuts again. Or rather walnut wine. Right, fino. With water:  ah, there, the spirit… Waxy oranges and honeydew on a slightly too caramelised walnut cake. Or something like that. Finish: long, with notes of rancio, old cognac style. Comments: they have it good in the warehouse! Having said that, I’m sure ten years of bottle ageing will make it even better, and further polish the corners. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Clynelish 18 yo 1995/2013 (55.4%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #10168, 263 bottles)

Clynelish 18 yo 1995/2013 (55.4%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #10168, 263 bottles) Three stars and a half I’ve never tasted a Clynelish by Duncan Taylor before! No, that does not obligatorily mean it’s their first Clynelish… Colour: white wine. Nose: crystal clear fruits, gooseberries, white currants, lemons and apples, without much wax and sooty things. Nice, but in a way, this could be Bladnoch. Could be the high strength… With water: same. It’s a very estery one, and the wax is hardly noticeable. Mouth (neat): it’s really a very fruity one, but this huge feeling of sauvignon blanc is pleasant. I’m serious, we could be quaffing cold-distilled white Bordeaux. With water: same, but there’s more oiliness. Not quite wax, though… Finish: medium length. Very fruity, apples, even pears, plums… Comments: had they cleaned the receiver? Nah, good stuff anyway, just a tad too fruity and ‘Speyside-y’ for Clynelish. Only an opinion, as always. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 (57.4%, Milano Whisky Festival, cask #6889, 120 bottles)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 (57.4%, Milano Whisky Festival, cask #6889, 120 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: ah yes. Wax, oil, citrons, clay, beach sand and soot. With water: wool and wet dogs come out (dogs, we’re as sorry as ever). Mouth (neat): ah yes, sharp, on earth, roots, lemon, brine, wax, grapefruits, smoked fish and pepper. Really a big one, not unlike a blend of the finest Taliskers and mezcals. With water: superlative. Reminds me of the best 1983s. Swims extremely well. Finish: endless, sharp, chiselled, tense, perfect. Comments: ha, the Italians! Excuse me, the Lombards! SGP:553 - 92 points.

Good, I think all what’s missing is a little digestif, and we’re done… I mean, a total beast!

Clynelish 11 yo 1989/2000 (60.8%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, USA) Two stars and a half I’m sorry, no picture for this one, but we all know Blackadder’s labels, don’t we? Colour: white wine. Nose: really aggressive, sharp, ultra-grassy and seemingly very mineral. Burns your nostrils if you try too hard to detect more aromas. So, with water: austere for sure, even after a long wait. Okay, fifteen minutes. Barley water with a layer of chalk and grass juice. Mouth (neat): bang! Probably not for everyone – hate to write that – but beautifully lemony and, well, ultra-sharp. It’s a blade. A feeling of aspirin, which quite a few Clynslishes may display in my experience. Like it better than on the nose. With water: becomes even more aspiriny, if I may. What do you do with whiuskies at 60%+ that don’t swim too well? Finish: long, sharp, very grassy. Comments: you can always find nice sides to just anything, and I certainly do here, but I usually take aspirin after a few drams too many, not in the whiskies. One of the harder ones. SGP:471 - 79 points.

(With thanks to Giorgio and gang, Lothar and Tom B.)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Clynelish I've tasted so far







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