Highland wildcat Clynelish 14 year 46%

After an Irish racehorse – Tyrconnell – our palates turned to the coastal highlands with the Clynelish wild cat.

As a tasting group, this was our first foray to the Clynelish distillery, near Brora, Sutherland in the Highlands. Much relied upon for blends – particularly Johnnie Walker Gold – the distillery was bought by United Distillers (aka now part of Diageo) in the mid 80s.

The official bottling of the Clynelish 14 year was only introduced in 2003 and marketed as part of Diego’s Classic Malt Selection.

And the wild cat mark? It was inspired by the Sutherland family coat of arms.

We sampled it blind before revealing the whisky.

Clynelish 14

Clynelish 14 year 46%
  • Nose – Sweet yet stronger than the Tyrconnell, bright, perfume, some sweet citrus, micro greens, tickle of pepper, orchids?
  • Taste – Delicate and sits nicely, sweet spice, subtle orange, pronounced “very nice”, as it opens, more sweet spice, a little tumeric, both capsicum and cayenne pepper
  • Finish – Sweet spice, surprisingly long
  • With water – REALLY kicks up the spice – a mini explosion, sizzler
  • Speculation – Likely from the Highlands with the sweet, light spice without any heavy peat notes
  • Overall – Easy drink when you want.
After the unveiling, we were surprised with the distiller notes on the bottle as we completely missed the smoke, though would certainly agree about the fruit!

Here’s what the Clynelish folks say:

  • Offers sweet floral fragrances and maritime flavours with a light, dry finish.

And what others say:

My final verdict? I passed over purchasing the Clynelish when trying different whiskies as was looking for a bit more substance for an upcoming tasting session. However I appreciated the opportunity to revisit it properly. Of the trio we sampled in January, this was my favourite – neat.

PS I got bragging rights for guessing the distillery, though had an advantage having briefly ‘met’ a Clynelish before!

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