Origin: Highlands (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: Yes
Average price: € 49.00
Official website: www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/clynelish
There are few distilleries in Scotland that don’t have a turbulent history: with closures, changes of ownership, fires and crises, their existence has rarely not been shaken up over the years.
Clynelish had a turbulent birth: in the early 1800s, many landowners decided that relying on sheep farming was no longer profitable, and decided to brutally evict farmers in order to devote the land to other activities, such as malt distillation.
Thus founded in 1819, the coastal distillery saw a revival in 1967, abandoning the old structure to build a new one next door, only to reactivate the previous one when Diageo (then DCL) ran out of peated whiskies to make Johnnie Walker, thus renaming it Brora (and which remained productive until 1983).
Like many distilleries in the Diageo portfolio, the aim of Clynelish is to supply distillate for its own blends, which is why the only official expression is the one under review, distributed only since 2005: there are other bottlings, but they are from independent labels.
It’s a pity that it’s not taken into greater consideration, given the potential of the distillery, which thus remains somewhat castrated, obliging those who appreciate it to seek out independent expressions, which are not always easy to find.
On the nose, the alcohol content is present, although not high, but after a short aeration, the fruity scents arrive, with vanilla, citrus, dried fruit and a hint of saltiness: not like island whiskies, but the location on the coast does its part. Hints of peat and a soft waxiness.
In the mouth it’s compact, elegant, overcoming the initial assault of the alcohol (which at 46° is not exactly a plus), the sweet and saline notes return, a pleasantly velvety and waxy texture, caramel (not the one used to colour it!) and again the smoke, always light but present. The longer you wait to drink it, the more different sensations overlap, a constant and silky evolution, very pleasant.
At the end, the marine note tends to prevail, accompanied by fruity scents and light (very light) peat, which accompany the palate for a not particularly long time.
An elegant, gentle, almost subdued whisky, which if it didn’t have that initially unbalanced alcohol content could really rise to excellence. A good starting point for those wishing to begin their exploration of whiskies, as it encapsulates many characteristics of the highlanders with a few islander touches.
The Whiskey Wash