Clynelish 13yo, 1989-2002, 56%, South African Sherry Butt – Signatory Vintage

Now this is a curious whisky. Technically, if we take all claimed regions and products in account there is no such thing as South African Sherry. Now it’s very possible to create something exactly the same and call it differently (think of Vin Jaune de Jura).

In this case they decided to go for a rather descriptive marking on the label, and I wouldn’t have a clue how the European Union regards this. Officially, there is no South African imported into Europe, and this rule is probably not really enforced in South Africa.

All very interesting of course, but what counts is what’s in the bottle.

Clynelish from a South African Sherry butt

Clynelish from a South African Sherry butt

The sweetness of a sherry cask is here, but I also get the slight sour notes of yeast and what I presume is a flor layer. There’s some vanilla which makes me expect the sherry butt was made with American oak. A slightly weird combination of fruit. Some apples, but also some dried fruits. Not too descriptive.

A tad later I get the more typical Clynelish scents of candle wax and leather. Stewed fruits too, but the ‘stewed’ takes over. Like a meat stew with some treacle sweetness.

The palate is sharp with quite some alcohol and white pepper. Oak, and sweetness. There’s fruit with raisins, and plums.

The finish is sweet and still heavy, like that meat stew scent I got. The soury scent of the yeast is back too. It’s long, heavy and waxy.

In close up

In close up

This must be one of the most Mortlach-y Clynelishes I’ve ever had. In this case, it combines two good things, namely the Mortlach beefiness and weight, with the waxy flavours of Clynelish. It makes for a very heavy dram, but also a slightly simple one.

I’ve bought this bottle quite some time ago, but it holds together very well and I actually love it more than when I bought it. I’m not sure what I expected but I wasn’t too thrilled at first. It has grown on me and where I probably went for a bigger blast of flavour, I now see it’s a bloody heavy dram which actually packs quite a punch.

Clynelish 13yo, 1989-2002, 56%, South African Sherry Butt – Signatory Vintage

Samples available


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
This entry was posted in Clynelish and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Clynelish 13yo, 1989-2002, 56%, South African Sherry Butt – Signatory Vintage

  1. South Africa has made continuous and bona fide use of the terms “port” and “sherry” for over a hundred years. In these days there were no trade agreements between the EU and South Africa. They produced “sherry-style” wines in the Spanish tradition and they could call them Sherry as long as they weren’t exported to the EU. Other regions like California and Australia have similar wines by the way.

    In 2012, South Africa did sign a trade agreement with the EU and one of the implications was that they had to ban the name, even from South African shelves. See

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s