No, don’t go rushing to The Whisky Exchange’s site. It’s long gone. An affordable Clynelish that is well aged and matured in a good sherry cask is going to be popular. If, on top of that, Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com rates it at 91 points, it won’t last another day. Luckily, I had just ordered one.
Let’s be honest about something first. I love Clynelish, but I haven’t had many great ones from a sherry butt. There have been some but in some cases sherry and Clynelish don’t mix. The result can sometimes taste too much like glue.
Also, my love for Clynelish works both ways of the equation. I tend to get biased when I like a distillery. If a dram lives up to my expectations of it, I tend to like it more than is justified. If it doesn’t I probably won’t stop complaining. This does NOT mean that when I really, really like a Clynelish, it’s only living up to expectations. There is some epic booze coming from that distillery. Unfortunately, Diageo have also hooked on to that idea… Thijs Klaverstijn wrote something about that which is rather good.
The sherry is quite noticeable but not overly big. What I find surprising is that Clynelish’s trademark waxy notes come off so strongly. I already love this. There’s quite some wood and pine resin too. After that I get blackberries and blueberries and cherries. Also, the flavor of sherry (apart from the fruitiness) is there.
The palate is gentle, which isn’t too surprising at a relatively mild 50.6% abv. A touch of pepper is here which I didn’t find on the nose. The oak and resin are back with more focus on the resin. I get the slightest bit of sulfur, in a matchbox kind of way. The black fruits again, luckily. Blackberries and dark ripe cherries. Surprisingly, it has a creamy undertone that I generally link to American oak (which this might very well be from).
The finish continues down the same path with more focus on the oak and resin, and the matches are here too. The fruitiness is still lovely but toned down a little bit.
My opinion of this week’s Caol Ila Masterpiece can be reiterated here. I want more of this. Half a bottle isn’t enough. The combination of good oak, resin and wax with those fruity notes is just gorgeous.
I bet there is a lot more to be gotten from this dram than I already have, but if these flavors were all I got, I’d still want more than one bottle, just to drink it. Now I have about half a bottle left with some enjoyment AND exploration to be done. I bet this is going to go fast.
What’s more surprising and many kudos to The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks Ltd. for it, is that they sold this stuff at and affordable £ 75. With the current price ridiculousness I bet they could have charged more and gotten away with it. Thank God they didn’t.
Clynelish 18yo, 50.6% – The Whisky Exchange Retro Series. Sold out.