To say that Clynelish can do no wrong in my book is a bit of a stretch, but I am a bit of a fan of the distillery’s output.
In my book that makes the balance swing both ways. When you like a certain style of whisky (a lot) and the whisky lives up to your expectations, one tends to rate it a bit higher than one should. But, if it doesn’t live up to expectations it might happen that the ‘malt mark’ sits a little bit lower than is warranted.
Anyway, Clynelish. One of the more waxy, and therefore slightly more idiosyncratic whiskies from Scotland. Some people dislike it, but most are pretty enthusiastic about it. Even their entry level 14 year old is a pretty decent dram, although with recent price hikes it’s starting to get a bit too expensive.
This one is from the days that Cadenhead was not the most interesting bottler out there. A lot of their whiskies were rather similar, with that being a tad thin, high in ABV and pretty sharp for what it was. There were some variations, but I didn’t consider it to be an awesome bottler, in those days.
As far as Clynelish from the early nineties goes, this is a lot more austere than I expected. There’s a certain harsh woodiness combined with slate, dried flowers and crystallized honey. Not the smooth waxiness you’d expect.
The arrival is equally harsh, although a bit of leeway is necessary since it’s the first dram of the day. Strangely, it mellows rather quickly. The austerity is present here too, although it’s more sharp dryness than anything else. Minerals, slate, straw and dried flowers. A touch of sweetness from heather honey.
The finish is still quite sharp. Of course, that should come as no surprise, but still. It’s quite short with more focus on the honey, straw and dried flowers.
It’s not what you hope for in a Clynelish. Not bad, but not up to par either. It doesn’t have the waxy scents and flavors that makes the distillate stand out and, maybe to expectations, it’s all rather sharp without enough flavor and richness to back it up.
In a way it’s a decent dram, but it’s not a Clynelish I would have been thrilled with, if I’d bought it myself.