By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
To say that I'm partial to this distillery would be an understatement. Clynelish is right up there with me with all of Scotland's finest. Let's be honest, not all malt is equal. Some distilleries just simply make better whisky more consistently. That's not a linear equation but is the function of a number of factors that happen to favor certain makes. Of course, we find legends among the lesser distillates and we also have far less access to many of the great malts in terms of bottling single cask. But my partiality toward Clynelish doesn't make me more likely to purchase a cask from the distillery. In fact, it has made me much more skeptical. Over the last few years, what was once relatively available older "affordable" Clyenlish has all but disappeared. While the occasional sample came around were either not up to snuff or completely outrageous in terms of cost. But when we tasted this special hogshead of Brora's finest, we couldn't let it out of our grasp. Of course, the whisky is more expensive than casks we might have sold 4 or 5 years ago of a similar age but also, it's simply more delicious. This Clynelish reminds me of a magnificent geode. Other worldly, yet a product of nature. Chiseled and shimmering, yet somehow wild and unruly. It's smooth facets and complex structure and of course it's unprecedented beauty. The nose offers classic Clynelish, but not too the point of being all candles. The wax is there, but framed by stunning Fuji apple, fresh herbs, forest floor, old leather and salted apricots. With some water, we're getting pretty waxy! Carnauba and leather, sweet baked apples and fresh tobacco leaf. On the palate, this stuff is softer than even the nose had alluded. But it doesn't lag at all on flavor. Fresh mint, dusty auto parts, sweet tea, anise, camphor, crayons, butterscotch, shiso, marmalade etc. With or without water you're going to do great here. While this isn't one of those whiskies that's so cheap people won't be able to stop themselves, it does represent one of the finest examples of top tier Highland single malt we've had in a long time. There's absolutely nothing else in this price point or style on the market today and those who pass on this one will regret it deeply going forward.