Clynelish is a Diageo-owned distillery with a confusing history. Prior to the opening of the current distillery in 1968, what is now known as the Brora distillery was named Clynelish. So technically Clynelish distillery has been in existence since 1819, but it’s not the same distillery as the Clynelish of today. Located in the coastal far-north of the Highlands, only Old Pulteney is located further north on the mainland. This release of the Distillers Edition was distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2010.
Nose: Fresh vegetable matter mingles with sherry overtones. There is a salty touch not unlike an extremely lightly peated Islay, however this quickly is overpowered by beeswax, berries and white chocolate. There is a strong scent of dried hay nicely accented by a light dusting of cinnamon and a gentle vanilla woodiness. This nose took me some time to work through, so be patient with your first dram and the layers will reveal themselves slowly.
Palate: A cinnamon bomb initially. There is a good dose of heat on the palate, so a touch of water is not a bad idea. After dilution, the cinnamon evolves into nutmeg and cardamom with a very recognizable yet mild smoky sea salt and black pepper. There are dried fruits that intermingle throughout; however the rich spice of this dram remains its defining factor. A slight sourness towards the back of the tongue seemed to develop after adding a few drops of water, although this does not detract from the tasting experience.
Finish: Pleasantly light and herbal, with an all to brief surprise of sweet strawberries right at the end. Rarely does a finish strike me as interesting; however this one manages to deliver a flavour combination quite unique among whiskies
Overall: This malt takes time to reveal itself, and rightly so. Its complexity is quite striking, and although subtle, every flavour that makes an appearance in this dram adds to its enjoyment. Given that this is a limited release (Indeed, the LCBO’s product inventory states “Limited Supply”), I definitely would recommend picking up a bottle to enjoy as a contemplative dram.