The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay

Recently a new brand of whiskies was brought to my attention (Thanks, Tom) from a bottler called ‘Fable’. I had never heard of them, but what I found out was that they had just released a set of five whiskies accompanied by an old Scottish folk tale.

Two of said whiskies had just been reviewed by the imitable Serge of Whiskyfun, and that triggered me to get my grubby hands on all five of them. A bottle-share was born (which, lately, is not a rarity…)

A day or two later a truly massive box of whisky came in, with enough bubble-wrap to wrap our house, but at least the whisky was safe!

If you want to see the gorgeous animations and listen to the story, you can go to Fable’s web site.

Apart from there being five whiskies, which we’ll get to in a bit, there’s a lot of other stuff to unpack as well. I think this is one of the best looking whisky products in a while, with the labels and artwork, but also the bottle wrapper, neck tag and everything else.

Hugo Cuellar, who did the artwork, really brought the story to life and there’s a certain Mike Mignola-esque approach to it all.

Let’s dive in, because there’s quite a lot to go through!


Caol Ila 12, 2008-2021, Hogshead 309952, 56.8%

This first chapter in the story is the Caol Ila called ‘Clanyard’. The kick-off point for the story, the town itself.

Sniff:
A briny smokiness, with burning sea weed. Salinity, bonfires, some honey and resin. Engine grease and a bit of pastry cream. Rather well balanced between all aromas.

Sip:
It’s surprisingly smooth for a 56.8% whisky, with a slow build-up in white peppery heat. Honey, engine grease, smoke and brine.

Swallow:
The finish has a quick blast of intense smoke before it veers back to the pastry cream, pepper and engine grease. Also, the coastal salinity is quite present.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a better Caol Ila in a long while, and especially not at such a young age. It is quintessential Caol Ila with the slight creamy pastry notes accompanied by smoke and engine grease. It’s exactly what I want from such a whisky.

89/100

Available in the secondary market for € 130


Benrinnes 12, 2008-2021, Hogshead 305966, 58.4%

The second chapter is the introduction of the ghost. It lives in a cave in the cliffs beneath the village. Or so it is said…

Sniff:
Grass and honey at first. It’s rather clean and pure, and crisp. Flint, basalt and an earthy note. Vanilla and white pepper again.

Sip:
The palate is warming and quite austere. Basalt, minerals, white pepper, but also with some foresty notes. Ferns, slate, moss, and that mulchy, earthy note from the nose.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly less austere and mineral-like. A bit more honey, soft oak and vanilla.

It’s lovely to see a good whisky with so little ‘extra’. It’s just a whisky, in a way. But it’s just a whisky that seems to tick all the boxes and I have the idea that this one was left alone to mature gently in some warehouse. No re-racking, no nonsense.

Also available in the secondary market, at the same price.

87/100


Linkwood 12, 2008-2021, Hogshead 300860, 54.8%

Chapter three sees the protagonist of the story arrive in Clanyard Bay, the piper. Gruff and haggard, but piping a merry tune despite that.

Sniff:
It’s quite light and malty, with hints of straw, hay and a whiff of vanilla. Some slate, moss and pear peels too.

Sip:
Dry, with hints of straw, grass, hay. Freshly cut oak. A little yeasty with pear peels and star apple.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit more sweet with an increase in vanilla and more oak. Slightly less dry than before.

This one feels a little bit generic, compared to the other two. I’m also missing the slight beery notes that normally come with a Linkwood, although there is that hint of yeast on the palate.

Again, available at € 130

85/100


Mannochmore 12, 2008-2021, Hogshead 7040, 55.4%

Along with the piper came it’s hound. A shaggy thing with hair as grey as its owner’s beard.

Sniff:
It starts rather timid, with some hay and dried apple, resin and pine cones. Soil and mulch, quite foresty (or sylvan, if you will…).

Sip:
While it’s pretty fierce on the arrival, think chili pepper and dry oak, there’s also some vanilla to combat that. There are subtle hints of apple and pear apart from all this.

Swallow:
The crisp finish with lots of apple, pear, melon skin and green banana. Some vanilla and oak. Quite a pure distillate.

This Mannochmore is the one that started it all, and while I think it’s a great whisky, I don’t think it’s a 90 point whisky. I love that it’s foresty and brings quite some notes of fruit. It’s just shy of 90 because it’s not overly complex apart from that.

Unsurprisingly, this one isn’t available anymore.

89/100


Dailuaine 12, 2008-2021, Hogshead 307138, 54.8%

The moon kept shining on Clanyard Bay, even though the piper was never seen again and the hound fled the cave without a hair on it.

Sniff:
Warming and a bit funky on the nose, Hessian, old wallpaper on a leaky attic. Vanilla custard, leather and dirt.

Sip:
The funkiness is a little bit suppressed by fresh black pepper, it’s heat and some oaky dryness. Again, rather earthy with dry soil, paper and a hint of vanilla.

Swallow:
The finish brings a bit of stewed fruits and jam on top of the flavors and aromas that came before.

It’s almost Springbank-like in its funkiness, which seems to be the direction Dailuaine is going in, for the last few years. I like it, if they don’t push it too far (like what happened on the Watt Whisky one).

And finally, this too is available, but for a few bucks less.

88/100


My conclusions to this are manyfold:

  • I like something extra, like the way this looks. It does add to your experience with a dram.
  • I absolutely love that they kept these whiskies as pure and straight forward as possible. No finishes, no guiding the whisky along, just letting it be.
  • The Mannochmore, Caol Ila and Dailuaine are great.
  • I’ll be keeping my eye on Fable for future releases!

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 Benrinnes, Caol Ila, Dailuaine, Linkwood, Mannochmore and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay

  1. Pingback: Mannochmore 20, 1997-2017, Bourbon Hogshead, 52.7% – Cadenhead | Malt Fascination

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