The Highlands is the largest Scottish region, with a wide range of styles and a brilliant array of distilleries. In the East, there is Glendronach, Glenglassaugh, Glen Garioch and Ardmore. Whereas in the West, there is Oban and Ben Nevis. Smack in the Centre is Aberfeldy and Dalwhinnie. Go South to find Glengoyne, Loch Lomond, Deanston and Tullibardine. Whereas in the North, there is Glenmorangie, Dalmore and Clynelish.
Clynelish is considered a ‘coastal‘ whisky and, like many distilleries, has a past… tracing links to the old Brora distillery nearby that was initially closed, then re-opened in 1969 to 1973 to pump out peaty whiskies to cover a shortfall of Islay whiskies due to a drought, further exacerbated by the lack of whisky from Caol Ila while its distillery was being rebuilt. By 1983, production of a peated spirit was halted.
Meanwhile, just adjacent, the new Clynelish distillery had identical stills to its neighbour Brora yet focused on the lighter Clynelish style we know today, predominantly for blending.
Why intertwine the two? Practically the same location, same owner, same source for blends, both kept largely out of the single malt universe. Then in 2003, Diageo launched its classic malts selection and the Clynelish wild cat became available to the world.
And what did our Whisky Ladies find?
- Nose – Overripe fruit, plum, soft pears, bananas, almost a bit musty, a nutrition bar, nutty honey, chocolate fudge, then more caramel, citrus rinds
- Palate – What a contrast! Not sweet as the nose suggested but instead hickory smoke, quite satisfying, nice round but hard to pull out anything in particular initially, then dry tobacco, a mulch of organic leaves, earthy
- Finish – Very sweet, dry, developing longer wet sweet tobacco with a slight curl of spice
For some, they much preferred the nose to the palate. For others it was the reverse. And some were particularly happy to finally have a satisfying finish.
Overall many were pleasantly surprised to find how much they enjoyed the Clynelish which had more substance than initially expected. Still very much in the lighter vein it isn’t a complete lightweight to be immediately dismissed.
Here’s what the folks over at Clynelish have to say:
The 14 year old Clynelish single malt offers sweet floral fragrances and maritime flavours with a light, dry finish – a classic case of a coastal malt with a subtle island character.
And from the bottle, the following tasting notes:
- Nose – The nose starts with light candle wax, with some sugar and a faint floral fragrance. Adding a little water brings this into focus, the candle wax is now richly scented as if , when strolling near the beach, you have come across sun-dried flowers among the sand dunes.
- Palate/Finish – On the spicy palate there’s a signature oily mustard-cress crispness, which is underscored by some maritime saltiness in the satisfying drying finish.
Which garnered responses like:
“Not just any old flower but specifically sun-dried flowers… on the beach.. nestled amongst the sand dunes… “
“Who would put candlewax in their mouth?!”
To say we were amused is putting it mildly…
The Whisky Ladies of Mumbai’s Scottish Regional Tour continues with:
- Lowland – Glenkinchie 12 year 43%
- Islands – Jura Turas-Mara 42%
- Highland – Clynelish 14 year 46% (an earlier tasting)
- Speyside – Cardhu 12 year 40%
- Islay – Ardbeg 10 year 46%
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