Dram Review: Clynelish 14 Years Old Bottled by Royal Marine Hotel

[Less than 92° Proof・14 Years Old・Bottled Circa 1960s・Original Bottling Bottled by Royal Marine Hotel・Limited Release]

Nose:

Sea breeze captured in a velvet like state, pungent ripen fruits laced with a stickily sweet caramel sauce followed by a tail of wee metallic notes, clean malt spirit and toast charred on coal fire.. swiftly becoming more mineral driven.

Palate & Finish:

The dram showcasing even more ripen fruits on the palate, poached pears, caramelised banana slices, can peaches, lavender and candied pineapples, some caramel fudge in the follow through as it effortlessly becomes maltier.

Summer berries and tropical fruits in the finish, minerals and sea salt to close.

Thoughts:

Historic bottle showing OBE with some fascinating traits, perhaps telling the story of how it fares over the years more than how things used to be.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Clynelish Select Reserve Special Release 2015

Style: Citus-y and Complex

Nose:
Lemon peel, Sprite lightly mixed with peppermint schnapps to give a satisfying warmth. Mineralic and coastal peat echoing a gentle whisper. Orange confectionaries sprinkled with citrus salt. Barley scattered around carelessly while a thin layer of wax coated around the core. Light pencil shavings and floral fragrance sitting at the bottom. You can feel there are multiple elements at play here. A highly complex nose.

Palate:
Begins with more lemon citrus, cedar wood arrives earlier than expected. Orange, pineapple and grapefruit fully immersed in nectar, the sweetness is building carefully on top of barley and agar agar foundation. Tropical fruits, candlewax, rich caramel, coconut shreds with another touch of peppermint. Malt syrup crystallized beautifully towards the end.

Finish:
A rather barley-dominated finish, whereas the other elements – orange, vanilla, honey-lemon jelly gradually surface after a while.

Thoughts:
I remember this Clynelish has stirred controversy when it came out with a whopping $A950 price tag slapped on it. How a NAS (No Age Statement) can cost this much was beyond comprehension for many. To clarify things, I read the little booklet in the package box and it says, “Selecting some of our oldest reserve and using only whiskies at least fifteen years…” Hence, technically speaking, it is a 15 years old Clynelish packaged as NAS. While the concept of this product is an intriguing one, but I rather not delve too much into it as my review is long enough as it is. Back to the whisky, there is definitely a modern vibe to it, but at the same time it feels the older component does unlock the complexity of the spirit, an array of nuances displayed nicely without being overpowered by its core signatures. A highly technical dram, and whether it is worth the price tag probably depends on how much you want to pay for a delicious and beautifully executed whisky.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[54.9% | No Age Statement | Original Bottling | Cask Strength | Bottle Number: 1691 | 2964 Bottles | Non Chill Filtered | Non Coloured | **-]

Dram Review: Clynelish 200th Anniversary Aged 20 Years

[57.3%・20 Years Old・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 1,819 Bottles]

Nose:

The Sherry theme is noticeably heavy right from the get go with a whiff of spirit intensity coming across as rather strong.  Toffee crisp adding to the weight with some poached fruits adding to the mix in time.  Quite oily at first but develops some lighter tropical and floral notes in time.

Palate & Finish:

A buttery delivery of honey, peaches and tropical fruits with a distinct earthy burnt toast note coming through, with a very obvious dose of beeswax and waxy apple peels to follow along some background leather and tobacco notes.

French toast and maple syrup in the finish dressed with some dried pineapple cubes and caramelised banana slices.

Thoughts:

For an anniversary release this feels like a greatest hits album, the dram gives what one would more or less expect from a Clynelish Limited Release with Sherry casks involved and thus it is a perfectly fine batch in that regard.

Personally and perhaps rather snobbishly though, I think Clynelish excels in its subtleties and is magical when the nuances are left to be explored by the discerning men and women..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Hidden Spirits Clynelish 1992 Aged 26 Years “Highproof”

Style: Fruity, Complex and Elegant

Nose:
Gentle entrance of lemon citrus, while herbal notes beaming positively at the front. Orange drops, baked fruits, coriander (?), yellow flowers, a touch of tar and tropical fruits all carefully weaving together to give a subtle, beautiful and complex secondary layer, which is quite the reverse of what the “modern” Clynelish offers. Are we dialing back time and have a taste of old-school Clynelish here? Medicinal spice, peppermint, vanilla barley, a pinch of salt rubbing on game meat, the elements on offer is simply dazzling.

Palate:
Citrus confectioneries building up a nice round sweetness, lemon rind, sea salt, game meat, candle wax, flint stone, coconut shreds and thyme intertwining closely. Yellow flowers blossom, while tropical fruits quietly simmering on top of amber coal and peat smoke. Another dash of peppermint spice, lavender and citrus oil dripping on mineral stones and dry barley.

Finish:
Lemon cake coated with icing sugar, more confectioneries with just a tiny bit of candle wax to finish.

Thoughts:
Not often I get to try 20 years old plus Clynelish, I wonder why there are so little them these days… Now this one feels very different to what we know as the modern style – waxy and citrus-forward, this is way more subtle, way more complex than most Clynelish that I have tried so far. The citrus fruits, tropical fruits, wax, mineral notes, peat smoke, saltiness, grassiness, every piece is assembled intricately with pure elegance and finesse. I wouldn’t say it is my 3 stars whisky, but no wonder Serge likes this so much. Incredible dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.1% | Independent Bottling | Cask Strength | Non Chill Filtered | Non Coloured | Single Cask | Cask Number: CY9219 | 2019 Bottled | 1992 Distilled | **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Clynelish Aged 14 Years

Style: Fruity and Waxy

Nose:
Citrus grapefruit and orange beaming positively at the front, the fruity sweetness is nicely supplemented with a gentle touch of candle wax. Decent vanilla brush, fresh lemon peels garnished around the core, with mineral spice combines with barley and cereal notes. Faint aroma of banana split at its tail.

Palate:
More lemon and grapefruit sweetness teams up comfortably with the growing waxiness on the palate. Citrus-scented candle and balm sealing the top. Light tropical fruits slipping under, quite similar to what the nose has suggested. The tone gradually drops lower to the drier region, with minimal vanilla drizzling on oat and barley, faint sea salt and ends with a hint of kumquat oil.

Finish:
Sweet lemon and orange wax, a final touch of menthol singing out pretty nicely.

Thoughts:
Clynelish, though not as well-known as some other single malts, is the beloved distillery of many connoisseurs, myself included. It is not hard to see why – Bright citrus fruits character fits perfectly with ample waxiness to create a deliciously sweet, comfortable and effluent profile. An excellent style which is now a rarity in modern era, and this current official general release offers you a glimpse of what Clynelish is about. A nice introductory whisky.

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[46% | Original Bottling | General Release | circa 2016 Bottled]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Cask of Distinction Clynelish Aged 35 Years Exclusively Bottled for Aaron Chan (Cask No. 2566)

[52.2%・35 Years Old・Distilled in 1983・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2566・Single Cask Release of 144 Bottles]

Nose:

Ahhh, the nose is immediately captivating with this dense matured musk; mahogany furniture heavily and meticulously wax polished.  There are some savoury notes settling over the fruits, wood fired bell pepper and capsicum, whilst a mushroom-y note peels off to reveal the sugar coated dried fruits, smoked bacon and minerals.  The nose changes in time to let off a perfume-y aroma and weights heavier with a creamy base.

Palate & Finish:

A expressive, vibrant offering of bouquet fruits and spring carnival flowers, the sweetness is immensely rich and enticing with dried apricots, candied oranges and mango cubes; whilst the barley and oak provide a clean, effortless balance to the charming flow of nectar.  The mid-palate conveys more of the Sherry creaminess, with leather and icing sugar subtly brush on as the oak begins to assert its drying touch.

The lingering fruitiness elongates with some Italian herbs, wonderfully satisfying with the waxy aftertaste and perhaps a faint suggestion of smoke

Thoughts:

What a dram.

An ever changing nose that fascinates, a lavishly pleasuring palate and a deeply satisfying finish.

My sincere thank you to Mr. Chan and his business partners for choosing to make this bottling happen.

The decision to bottle a cask like this under the Cask of Distinction program cannot be purely commercial, there must be some inherent appreciation towards the distillery and there must be a desire to possess something truly special, something so great it warrants the conversation of whether this is one of the best ever from Clynelish.

For me this is very close to scoring three stars..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Cask of Distinction Clynelish Aged 21 Years Exclusively Selected by Boyao Zhao (Cask No. 7555)

[56.7%・21 Years Old・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 7555・Single Cask Release of 405 Bottles]

Nose:

Initially withheld, Christmas spices and toffee, dates and raw almonds. Candied oranges and subtle black cherries joined by minerals and a soft cigar smoke.

Palate & Finish:

A umami saltiness strikes an impression amidst the cherries and spices, the cream Sherry inspired toffee note carries candied oranges and roasted almonds, as strawberry sauce drizzles over subtle brush of candle wax.

A layered and coherent finish of blackcurrant, cinnamon and minerals as the oak slowly impresses a dryness.

Thoughts:

A sophistically designed bottle with the whisky inside specifically selected by and bottled for Mr. Boyao Zhao of China, the refilled Sherry hogshead is rather sensible, not overly relying on spirit characters with the Sherry influence clean but restrained. Another good one from the solid 1997 vintage.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Jack & Jack Auld Distillers Collection

[56.1%・10 Years Old・Distilled in 1996・Bottled Circa 2006・Jack & Jack Bottling・Single Cask Release of 150 Bottles]

Nose:

Pungent notes of toffee, vanilla sauce and dark honey, some minerals and sea breeze linger with the floral scent drifting on.

Palate & Finish:

Quite intensely sweet, fresh Sherry with some fortified led dried orange notes. Plenty of crumbly brown sugar, dates and cinnamon and ginger spices.

Tails off with stewed fruits and folded caramel, a wee bit earthy.

Thoughts:

I suspect this was aged in a modern Sherry cask, the youthful citrus vibe from the Sherry is particularly striking.. quite a solid belter.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Three Rivers Clynelish Aged 17 Years

[54.4%・17 Years Old・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2014・Three Rivers Bottling・Cask No. 4046・Single Cask Release of  300 Bottles]

Nose:

A rush of oily caramel onto a bouquet of green fruits. Fresh Nashi pears, oranges and banana peels, but beneath the surface it’s surprisingly raw with a hint of soapiness.

Palate & Finish:

Thick, oily mouthfeel, a whole lot of citrus, fruits, vanilla and coconuts with some spicy top notes. Crisp from the mid-palate with splash of white pepper coming through.

Caramel and malt slowly surfacing in the finish, slightly on the dry side but in time it gets fruitier and fruitier..

Thoughts:

Thoroughly entertaining, a youthful Clynelish that is incredibly fruity; in my experience this is perhaps one of the more vibrant expressions from 1995-1997.

Certainly a lovely malt. Close to scoring two stars.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The Perfect Dram Clynelish Aged 23 Years

[49.7%・23 Years Old・Distilled in 1989・Bottled in 2012・The Perfect Dram Bottling・Limited Release of 229 Bottles]

Nose:

Waxy and fruity, crisp apple brushed with golden syrup.  There is a buttery goodness that leads to a French patisserie note, the slight saltiness is particularly inviting.

Palate & Finish:

Succulent orchard fruits with the satisfyingly fine layer of wax followed by buttery vanilla.  The wonderfully vibrant fruits flow through with just a splash of ginger flowers and spices chiming in to shape the delivery.

A crisp lager note floats on, lingering saltiness and creaminess..

Thoughts:

We probably don’t appreciate a well executed malt nearly enough these days.. and I’m glad I got to sample this dram. Quite frankly this exceeded my expectation, it played out exactly as I’d hope it would, down to how it integrates those finer distillery signatures; delicious dram, lovely body..

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas