It’s been a while since I posted a Malt Nuts meeting notes and that’s not because we haven’t been having them, but because I got crazy busy at work and barely had enough time to make regular postings let alone assemble the notes from awesome events like this Clynelish tasting. This is also why there were no posts at all last week.
However, this week there will be 3 of these going up along with 5 regular posts (busy week of whisky). I used some of my Thanksgiving break to get caught up on things like posts, emails and comments so get ready for a boozy flood. 🙂
As the title states this is number two in our four part Clynelish tasting we’re staggering out over the coming months. As usual we showed up to a slew of blinded whiskies, the first of which we used to toast our gracious host. From there some ate, some chatted, some smiled, some frowned, but we all drank whisky. As usual a good time was had by all and here’s how it all rolled out.
’98 Cut Signatory Clynelish + A Repeat
PRE: Battlehill Clynelish 13 years: 43%
- Nose: Fruit, minerals, malty sweetness, dried apricots, honey and vanilla.
- Palate: Fruit, malt, honey, graham, sweetness, dried fruit, vanilla, pineapple syrup.
- Finish: Med -> Fruit, honey, malt, graham, dried apricot.
- Overall: B (83-86) Lovely sweetness overall but that same sweetness knocks it a bit off balance. I gave it a B- in our first round of Clynelish tasting so it seems to have improved with time.
1A: Signatory Clynelish 15 years (98-14): 43% – Hogshead cask
- Nose: Fruit, pears, honey, malt, sweetness, banana nut muffins and a touch cocoa.
- Palate: Fruit, pears, honey, malt, sweetness, banana nut muffins, dried apricots and a bit of earthy oak.
- Finish: Med -> Earthy malt, honey, pears and a touch of lemon.
- Overall: B- (80-82) A fairly standard whisky. Nothing to get too excited about here.
1B: Signatory Clynelish 16 years (98-14): 43% – Hogshead cask
- Nose: Fruit, honey, malty sweetness, minerality, waxy bananas and a bit of spirit.
- Palate: Fruit, honey, malty sweetness, minerality, waxy bananas, citric acid and a bit of vanilla-like spirit.
- Finish: Med -> Mineral water, citric acid, Smarties and dried fruit.
- Overall: C+ (77-79) It’s not completely terrible and it’s really the acidic bite that dropped it down to a C+ for me… this one ended up being mine.
2A: Carn Mor Clynelish 15 years (97-12): 46% – 2 cask vatting
- Nose: Fruity frosting, orange marmalade, dried dark fruit, spice and malt.
- Palate: Fruit, vanilla, orange peels, dried fruit, spice and graham.
- Finish: Med -> Fruit, butterscotch, citrus, graham, oak and a bit of citric acid.
- Overall: B (83-86) Kind of tart on the palate and finish but it works with the sweetness and end up carrying a decent balance. Not bad.
2B: Connoisseur’s Choice Clynelish 16 years (97-14): 46%
- Nose: Fruit, honey, graham, vanilla, lemon peel, oak and minerality.
- Palate: Fruit, honey, graham, touch vanilla, lemon peel, oak, waxy banana and mineral water.
- Finish: Med -> Juicy Fruit gum, lemon peel and waxy banana.
- Overall: B (83-86) On the higher end of the B scale, just shy of a B+. This was a fun tasty whisky.
2C: Clynelish 14 years: 43%
- Nose: Vanilla marshmallows, honey, dried fruit, butterscotch taffy and a touch floral.
- Palate: Honied fruit, Necco Wafers, waxy banana, butterscotch and something like an artificial malty sweetness.
- Finish: Short -> Honey, fruit, waxy banana and Necco Wafers.
- Overall: B- (80-82) This is one dovetails neatly into 1B they’re so similar. I was more than a bit surprised to see this was the OB. I knew it would make an appearance in this tasting and I always remembered liking it more than this, in fact in round 1 I gave it a B… a very interesting finding indeed.
Clynelish Distiller’s Editions
3A: Clynelish Distiller’s Edition 14 years (97-12): 46% – ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso cask
- Nose: Fruit, butterscotch, malt, smoke, brittle, spice and mushrooms.
- Palate: Smoke, fruit, butterscotch, malt, toffee, spice, mushrooms and some menthol.
- Finish: Long -> Smoke, fruit, butterscotch, spice, mushrooms and menthol.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Yeah! This is quite tasty and the smoke adds a new dimension to the whisky without being overpowering at all. It’s light, but stood out quickly after 6 fruity, smokeless, whiskies.
3B: Murray McDavid Clynelish 11 years (95-06): 46% – ex-Bouron & ex-Port cask
- Nose: Waxy banana, touch iodine, dried dark fruit, butterscotch, dried apricots.
- Palate: Fruity, malty, iodine, dried dark fruit, butterscotch and dried apricots.
- Finish: Long -> Bit of smoke but lots of waxy fruit, butterscotch, dark fruit and dried apricots.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) A nice whisky with a lovely finish, a bit more complex and it’d be an easy A-.
Cask Strength Clynelish
4A: Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength Clynelish 16 years (97-13): 57.9% – refill Sherry Cask
- Nose: Waxy fruit, butterscotch, touch herbal, buttery toffee, apples and walnuts.
- Palate: Fruit, cinnamon, buttery toffee, caramel, oily nuts and apple pie.
- Finish: Long -> Buttery toffee, fruit, oily coffee beans and a hint of smoke.
- Overall: A- (90-92) Yum! Lovely lovely whiskey with a bold character and a rich oily texture. With water a sherry-like character pops up. It’s so well composed and balanced I heavily considered giving it an A.
4B: Berry’s Clynelish 15 years (97-13): 56.1%
- Nose: Fruit, lemon, brown sugar, dried fruit, apricot , oily nuts, spice and honey.
- Palate: Buttery brittle, fruit, waxy banana, smoke, apricots, spice and an overall dark oily character.
- Finish: Long -> Buttery dark sweets, waxy fruit, lemon peels, honey and smoke.
- Overall: A- (90-92) Holy yes please. I’m seriously digging this whisky as well. With the sudden change in tone I feel like this vertical has suddenly gone from rags to riches.
4C: Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength Clynelish 16 years (98-14): 58% – refill Sherry Cask
- Nose: Oily vanilla, waxy fruit, lemon peel, earthy malt, spice and dried apricots.
- Palate: Oily, fruity, vanilla, waxy fruit, honey, cinnamon, lemon peel and earthy malt.
- Finish: Long -> Butterscotch, waxy fruit, honey, cinnamon and “oil”.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) A good solid whisky with a nicely multifaceted character, but just shy of being truly awesome. Doesn’t quite live up to the two A- whiskies that came before it.
4D: Gordon & Macphail Cask Strength Clynelish 15 years (01-16): 54% – refill Sherry Cask
- Nose: Buttery caramel, rich dark fruit, oak, snickerdoodles, toffee and a saline-like mineral nature.
- Palate: Buttery caramel, smoke, rich dark fruit, oak, snickerdoodles, toffee and a saline-like mineral nature.
- Finish: Long -> Smoke, waxy fruit, cocoa, dried dark fruit, lemon rind and snickerdoodles.
- Overall: A- (90-92) Think of buttery snickerdoodles with bits of toffee baked in and drizzled with salted caramel sitting on top of a slice of fruit cake. If you can imagine that, you can imagine this whisky. It was my second favorite of the night. The first being the 4A G&M CS. Water brings more sherry-like notes and a bit of sulfur out.
4E: Exclusive Malts Clynelish 15 years (97-13): 53.5%
- Nose: Fruit, honey, oily nuts, dark sweets, dried dark fruit, lemon and malty sweetness.
- Palate: Fruit, honey, smoke, oily nuts, dark sweets, saline, dried dark fruit, lemon and bitter cocoa.
- Finish: Waxy lemon, fruit, honey, dark sweets, apples and oil.
- Overall: A- (90-92) This one clung to an A-, but just barely. It waffled between a B+ and an A-, but after adding some water and having it open up more and get some deeper fruit notes I landed on the A-.
4F: Caol Ila Unpeated 14 years: 59.3%
- Nose: Sherry pounds through followed by some dark fruit, nuts, ash, malty sweetness, spice and honey.
- Palate: Dark fruit for days, nuts, ash, malt, spice, honey, saline and waxy citrus.
- Finish: Long -> Solid malty fade with layers of waxy citrus, dark fruit, ash, nuts and spice.
- Overall: A- (90-92) Wow, I was surprised to see what this was. It didn’t quite mesh with the Clynelish vibe, but figured it was just a heavily sherried Clynelish.
I’ve been wanting to taste the un-peated Caol Ila for quite a while, but never had the chance till now… and now I’m going to be looking for a bottle when the next round comes out. Which is a neat aside on a personal level, but I’m sure you’re wondering why it’s in the tasting. Well it’s been said that un-peated Caol Ila and Clynelish taste very similar and while it seemed to be sherried, and good, it definitely stuck out at the end as being something different.
Another fabulous tasting in the books and I’m already looking forward to part 3 where we explore Clynelish aged 17-19 and then the final, part 4, where we’ll be exploring Clynelish at 20+ years. I ordered my bottles for those events a few months ago and now I’m just hoping that they show better than the one I picked for this round. Blind tastings are always fun, but they’re even more fun when you don’t go home with a dud. 🙂
Till next time, Cheers!