Clynelish. A Northern Highland distillery of some reknown, though not necessarily for the right reasons. I won’t dig in to the sad, sordid details here, but I do just want to take a moment to reflect on the fact that we ended up with Clynelish at the cost of Brora. No…it is not a just world. It is a further sad fact that most of the current distillery’s production ends of up bottled not as single malt, but in blends…notably Johnnie Walker Gold. Heartbreaking really, especially when one considers that Clynelish has the capacity to distill about 4.2 million litres annually. Finding a bottle of Clynelish, depending on your locale, may be more difficult than you can imagine.
The fine folks at independent bottler A.D. Rattray picked a dilly of a pickle with this cask (errrr…that means ‘good’, in case you’re not too up on your redneck speak). Young and vibrant, but bearing some attention-grabbing nuances that bely its relative youth. Cask strength delivery (59.7% abv) helps buoy these notes along on high tide.
This young beefcake, matured in a refill sherry butt, has what I’d imagine to be a fairly universal appeal. Sweet, clean and easy enough, but at the same time intricate and complex enough to delight us whisky nerds. The complexity and meandering development here were quite a surprise, as this is a relatively young whisky to exhibit such characteristics. A brilliantly timed bottling by A.D. Rattray.
First notes on the nose are rich creamy toffee or caramel. Buttery, sweet and smooth. Something akin to those little Werther’s candies we all love. Bit of a dusty background (dunnage warehouse?)…similar to a pleasant old woodshop. Something here reminds me a bit of saltines as well (perhaps sea salt?). Also a lovely fruitiness right up front that compliments the toffee notes. Hints (and no more, I think) of smoke.
Oily, creamy consistency on the palate. Mouthcoating, and just as with the nose, first notes are of butter toffee. Then some fruit (both dried and juicy fresh) Some wine-y sherry notes. A bit of oak and vanilla. Spices to be sure. Nicely paced development, slowly revealing its flavors and character. Much more than the OB Clynelish you’re liable to find on the shelves.
Quite liked this one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: A.D. Rattray