Clynelish 1996-2013, 46% – Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice

Ooooh! A decently aged Clynelish! Or at least, that’s what I thought when I saw this in a tasting line-up last September (I’m behind, I know it).

It was slightly less aged when I found out it had been bottled three years prior, but I was still quite enthused. What was also interesting was that this was the first bottle in a tasting of six. That meant the bar was being put high from the start. Or at least, that’s what we hoped…


Image from Whiskybase

The nose is quite fruity, with apples and pears. Sweet, like apple pie, so also pastry and sugar. Maybe some baked raisins. After that we got hints of crunchy muesli, honey. Some barley hints and candle wax.

The palate leaned quite heavy on the oak. I said white oak back then but it was a sherry cask so there’s a chance I was wrong. Barley, quite intense on the arrival. Stewed fruits and honey. Quite a rich palate.

The finish is a bit more typically Clynelish. Slightle more waxy (candles) and a hint of minerals and iron. I find this to be the thing with a lot of mid to late nineties Clynelishes. Some apples and slate.

Well, this is a bit of a conundrum. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this whisky, nobody was really thrilled by it either. It had all the markers with orchard fruits, some waxy notes, not overly oaky and a hint of slate. All typically Clynelish if you ask me.

That should be a recipe for a whisky that scores an easy 89 points or so, but in this case we all thought it tasted a little bit, I don’t know, boring? To rate that is tricky, since incredibly high quality can be boring, as this one is.

What’s also a bit strange is that currently, almost four months after the tasting, I am more and more inclined to buy this bottle anyway. As in, even though it doesn’t do anything extraordinary, it lives up to anything you could expect from a Clynelish so very, very well…

Also, what doesn’t help is that this is quite less slate-y and flinty than most 1996/1997 distilled Clynelishes, and it’s at 46%. In this case, that’s a pro, if just because most of them aren’t and this is different.


Clynelish 1996-2013, Refill Sherry Butts, 46%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice. Prices vary between 88 and 106 euros in The Netherlands.


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.
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