Review: Clynelish 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

14 Years
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Clynelish (Brora, Scotland)

This whisky is another one which is bred for blending - in fact, perhaps, the most famous of all of the base components for blended Scotch whisky being a central part of the Johnnie Walker stable. It is quite famous for it's "waxiness" which is caused by a natural buildup of oils in the feints and foreshots receiver (feints and foreshots are collected spirit at the beginning and end of the distillation which are not used for barreling but usually recycled back into the spirit which is being distilled). This buildup is normally cleaned up by distilleries - but not at Clynelish, where it builds their house style.

I really like the stuff from Clynelish, both this bottling, and the independent bottlings that I've tried. Not much is officially released from the distillery, but this standard is terrific. It's a favorite of mine as a single malt, but also as a base for home blending (which is what I do when I get bored of bottles) - it really does work magic in blends.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L4314CM000 0901684
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Applesauce, beeswax, raisins, apple seeds, marmelade, vanilla, oak, even with a bit of a juniper edge, light mineral notes as of the seashore - there not only is lots going on but it is quite well put together. Elderflower, too, is in the mix for a nice floral edge.

Taste: Sweet at first, before some sherry, oak, and malt hit up the mid-palate along with a light heather-honey note,  before dying out slowly with vanilla and dried fruit and a touch of peat. Lightly spicy too in feel and flavour - cinnamon, particularly. Developing, and fairly long in the mouth and ever so slightly salty.

Finish: Raisins, slightly dry oak, pear, elderflower, cinnamon, with a mild spiciness and dryness. There's a slight saccarin note which detracts, but this is slight.

A slightly quirky malt, however, the complexity and length of this whisky is certainly of merit. Complex whiskies are always a delight to me - this is not only delicious, but also quite entertaining. Each of the elements play very well together and are restrained enough to not dominate and hide out all of the complexity.

Score: 89/100

Value: 77/100 (based on $80)

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L6025CM000 00695154
  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Similar to above, so abbreviated notes here. Lightly smoky, with candle wax, maple sugar, almonds, apricots, peaches – I just love this nose. It’s not even that the notes themselves are special and unique – they are woven all together with such beautiful bridging flavours – they aren’t disparate but meld together incredibly well.  On the palate, lots of beeswax, natural soap, stewed stone fruits, and spice. The finish is full, with a lightly woody, waxy, and smoky combination and some coconut. Drying too – brilliant.

Score: 89/100

Value: 77/100 (based on $80)