Google Long leash Clynelish, Part One

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November 5, 2015


Long leash Clynelish, Part One

Yeah well, I’m still awaiting my long overdue Lousiest Headline Web Award! I’ll keep trying, I’ll keep trying… But back at the ranch, have you seen that there will be some major work done at Clynelish Distillery, especially on the mashtuns and washbacks? That means that our beloved ‘shoebox distillery’ will be silent for a good ten months next year. So let’s try to get ahead, but not with a genuine verticale. Indeed, one of the whiskies, by no means least, is NAS, and with NAS, you can’t do a verticale! And neither may you do an horizontale! But first, an aperitif…

Clynelish 1997/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogsheads)

Clynelish 1997/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogsheads) Three stars and a halfLet’s remember that G&M have long been the only ones to really carry the new Clynelish flag, with their famous ‘orange and brown’ label. The old official cream label was containing ‘old’ Clynelish. Colour: straw. Nose: I don’t know if that’s pure magic, but these bottlings by G&M are the closest to the ‘old’ Clynelish indeed, with a grassy, sooty, very mineral smokiness that’s not often to be seen elsewhere these days. That makes it a tad unsexy, especially given the rising porridge and leaven, but lovers of old skool Highlanders should love it. Earth. Mouth: very old style indeed. Ashes and soot again, on wholegrain bread, tobacco, and bitter oranges, plus even more salt than usual, and always this feeling of strong ale. Rather raw and, yes, unsexy. Finish: quite long, with the trademark citrus and wax coming out. Comments: I love it, but I know some folks may find it difficult and a little too austere. Not me. SGP:362 - 84 points.

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6824)

Clynelish 18 yo 1996/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6824) Four stars I remember a superb sister cask by BBR last year (#8783, WF 90) but that one was CS. Colour: straw. Nose: the base profile is the same, but this one’s rather brighter and fruitier, with a little more citrons and oranges on top of plenty of candle wax, then soot and ink, plus fresh almonds, wet sand, and touches of hessian and menthol. An old bag that was used to carry mint leaves, perhaps? Mouth: prototypical Clynelish from those years. Lemon, a touch of salt, an acridness, soot, wax, some earth, cider apples, roots… Need I say more? Finish: long, tense, a little angular, in a good way, leaving roots, salt, and earth on your tongue. Comments: this could have been bottled at CS if you ask me. Typical. SGP:363 - 87 points.

Clynelish 1997/2015 'Redcurrant Jus' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 300 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2015 'Redcurrant Jus' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half These SMWS-like names always make me laugh. They add some fun to these otherwise rather austere packages. And I often find the whiskies quite superb, let’s see. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the cask was more active, which imparted more roundness and fruitiness. Which, in turn, would rather lead to the early-to-mid eighties at Clynelish, if you see what I mean. A tropical touch, passion fruits, lemons, was, lemon balm… And rather less sooty, grassy, or mineral notes. Mouth: sweet Vishnu, this is much to my liking. Blinded, I’d have said 1982 or 1983, really.  Citrons, vanilla, beeswax, a touch of raspberry jelly (okay, redcurrants, if you like), then more coastalness, especially touches of salt and seashells. Finish: long, with some kind of waxy lemon pie, with some custard. Comments: impeccable, with just the right amount of oak influence. SGP:562 - 88 points.

So, there is this new official Special Release, NAS. Not knowing when to have it, let’s have it now.

Clynelish 'Select Reserve 2nd Edition' (56.1%, OB, Special Release, 2946 bottles, 2015)

Clynelish 'Select Reserve 2nd Edition' (56.1%, OB, Special Release, 2946 bottles, 2015) Five stars Despite it being NAS, I had enjoyed last year’s version quite a lot (WF 88). Now the lovely little book about these SRs states that it’s ‘at least fifteen years’, which virtually makes it a 15 yo, ‘and often far more’. They have used several types of cask – too long to mention – but the colour does not suggest first fill sherry. Colour: pale gold. Nose: there is a little vanillin at first nosing, but no coconut. And then, indeed, a combination of various periods of Clynelish, blended together with care. It’s almost as if you had vatted the BBR and the Wemyss that we just tried. Mangos and passion fruits, all things citrus, wax and paraffin, a drop of honey, some hay and some damp earth, some tobacco, a little menthol yet again… In truth, this nose is beyond reproach. With water: some mud and some seaweed coming out. Mouth (neat): watch it! Starts smooth, so you may want to down a good sip, but it’s very strong! Lemon skin, waxes again, a lot of lemongrass, green tea, a great bitterness (around grapefruits), and more and more salt. A grassy smokiness. With water: becomes sauvignony, like many 1995-1998s are. Or rather, manzanilla-like. Walnuts, a drop of seawater, a touch of mustard. I juts couldn’t be against that. Finish: long, grassier, limy and salty. A great margarita made in Sutherland. Comments: it seems that it’s sharper and better chiselled than last year’s version. Which leads to this fact: I like it even better. Too bad it’s too expensive (£550) SGP:462 - 90 points.

A last one today, but we’ll soon go on…

Clynelish 19 yo 1995/2015 (57.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #932013, 254 bottles)

Clynelish 19 yo 1995/2015 (57.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #932013, 254 bottles) Four stars Priced at less than a fifth of the price of the new Select Reserve. Colour: straw. Nose: there’s a sucrosity in this nose, but that won’t last, since it’s rather a tense, slightly yeasty, pretty organic and medicinal Clynelish that rises to your nostrils. Tincture of iodine, green tobacco, fern and moss, wet chalk, lager beer… Maybe is that the high strength? With water: smoother, with more fruits. Blood oranges, perhaps. Also the expected wax, and various tiny berries – or rather the spirits made thereof. Sorb, holly, elderberries… Mouth (neat): huge, sharp like a blade, with unexpected notes of blackcurrant fruits and buds, possibly from the alcohol. Let’s see… With water: great, but earthy, chalky, slightly bitter and herbal, with less fruits than expected. An austere Clynelish. Finish: same-ish, with this medicinal side once again. Not unlike a lightly peated Laphroaig. No, not Laphroaig Select! ;-). Comments: perhaps more for the Jansenist Clynelish lover. SGP:362 - 87 points.

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







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