Some months ago I decided to open some Clynelish bottles from my collection and bottle share them. Of the four bottles opened, two are from The Ultimate, a Dutch independent bottler that’s been bottling for years. The two bottles were well aged whiskies from 1991, bottled in 2013 and 2014.
Now, normally, I’m not a huge fan of The Ultimate. They (and I from them) have had some utterly gorgeous whiskies over the years, but sometimes there’s a stinker in there that makes you instantly regret buying it. To avoid this, I’ve only been buying things from this bottler after tasting them, since I find it a huge waste of money to have stuff sitting on the shelves for years until I decide to make sauce.
This sounds rather negative, but I guess it goes for almost all bottlers out there. The main difference is that it happens a bit more often with bottlers that are considered ‘budget bottlers’ than with the more expensive ones. But in any case I really advise you to try before you buy.
But, after this random rambling from me, let’s get to the whiskies.
Clynelish 1991-2013, 22 years old, Hogshead 13216, 46%
On the nose it starts with the typical Clynelish scents like candlewax, beeswax and some resin. There a soft scent of oak and autumn leaves. It’s has a slight rough edge with hints of nettles and other leafy greens.
The palate starts slightly sharper than you’d expect from a well aged 46% whisky, but mellows quickly. It’s quite rich with waxy notes, resin and oak. It gets a bit more fruity with flavors of apple and pear. Quite dry too.
The finish then. This continues the smoothness that ended the palate. There are hints of dried apple, oak, honey and beeswax.
Honestly, this does everything you want it to do. A 20-something year old Clynelish that is completely predictable is a good thing, in most cases, and in this one it is too. I think this whisky could have been a bit more interesting when bottled at cask strength, but that is not a common thing for The Ultimate. The waxy notes are very present without dominating the whisky, and they leave enough room for the lighter hints of fruit, oak and leaves to come through. Very good indeed.
Clynelish 1991-2014, 23 years old, Hogsheads 13213 and 13214, 46%
This one has dry notes on the nose from the start. There are candles and waxine hints, with dried apple and cinnamon. Quite smooth, all together.
The palate is as smooth as the nose, with more hints of oak, tree bark and dry leaves. A hint of white and black pepper adds a bit of spicyness, before the resin and candlewax comes through. Dried apple and cinnamon towards the end, like on the nose.
The finish is smooth and light, with dry oaky notes. Some bark, some cork. White pepper towards the end here too.
The second one, as you might have guessed is a bit different from the first. It’s drier and slightly more complex. This does, however, push back the waxy notes a bit, but luckily without completely masking them. The complexity makes it a bit more interesting to me, since there’s a bit more to discover. When you’re having your second, third or fourth glass of it, it doesn’t go completely predictable, which might happen with the first one.
Of course, both whiskies are mostly sold out now, since they were bottled quite a while ago. You might encounter one in a more off the beaten path shop, but I guess chances are getting low. They will pop up now and then in the secondary market, but prices have gone up significantly in the last year or so.