Clynelish has long been a favourite distillery or mine: the trademark waxy notes, the abundance of american oak maturation and the powerful flavour have meant it is the one distillery which I have always had a bottle of, ever since I got into whisky. However, lately I’ve been neglecting it a bit. For about 6 months the only bottle I had was a closed one (it still is, btw). So when whiskybroker, the Robin Hood of independent bottlers, announced they were bringing out an 18yo Clynelish for a very reasonable price it did not take me long to scramble for my creditcard and place an order.
Clynelish 18yo 54.1% Whiskybroker 11th December 1996 - 30th January 2015 Refill Hogshead #11448
The nose is rounded and sweet to start, with buttery vanilla and cookie dough. Then banana and ripe pear appear, followed by sugared cherries and fudge. There’s a hint of dry cardboard and a touch of glue. After a while in the glass, some of the fruit transforms into sultana raisins and becomes slightly sour. With water, the whole thing becomes even sweeter, like walking into an oldfashioned candyshop.
In the taste, I find the first ‘Clynelish-esque’ aroma’s: snuffed candle and paraffin. The fruit is still there: cherries and sultanas. A slight alcoholic bite and warming sensation are offset by a coating mouthfeel. There’s some american oak spice, milk chocolate with salt and some bitter wood, all nicely balanced. With water the taste becomes more integrated and more bitter, with a hint of licorice.
The finish lasts forever and ever. I’m talking easily 10 minutes here. It starts on banana, pear and woodspice with a waxy feel that becomes stronger and stronger. After a few minutes it transforms into an unexpected waxy floral note and just… keeps… going… Simply wonderful.
So, overall I find this to be a damn good whisky. Not overly emphasising one part of the Clynelish style or the other, it is quite well balanced. If anything I think the cask (and the american oak it was coopered from) has marginally the bigger say here, with the spirit confined to a supporting role. I’m fairly certain this cask previously held sherry, which puts in a small but vital cameo, especially in the nose.
My score: 90/100