Yet another Clynelish. This is from one of those sexy (but not always practical) Signatory CS decanters. Let’s get right to it:
Clynelish 13, 1995 (Signatory, 58.2%, Sherry Butt; from my own bottle)
Nose: Resinous and vegetal (celery?) and quite briny. No raisins or brown sugar or any of the usual signposts of a sherry cask. With a little bit of time the nose becomes almost oppressively salty for a bit but it passes and the nose settles down. Much closer to the Exclusive Malts 15 yo, 1997 now, with a light savoury note. The piney/resinous note never quite goes away. I tried very hard to find some wax, but could not. Ah, but there it is with water (or did I just Jedi mind trick myself?). A few drops of water dial the piney note back a bit and allow darker/sweeter notes to emerge: dried apricots, fruit leather. Now this smells like a whisky matured in a sherry butt, but the sherry notes are still quite restrained. The salt keeps washing in and out.
Palate: A little hot, but quite closed. The primary impression is of salt. Let’s see what water does…. Water makes it a little sweeter, brings out some fruit and generally makes me feel less like a deer at a salt lick. Not quite sure exactly what the fruit is–a hint of lime zest, i think.
Finish: Ah yes, there’s the sherry; loads of salt too. Water doesn’t really change the finish too much–the lasting impression remains that of salt, but with time the limey note that emerged on the palate begins to hang around as well.
Comments: I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I was intrigued to try a single ex-sherry cask of Clynelish, but this is not particularly sherried. That is not a complaint: aggressive sherried notes can lead to a sort of regression to the mean where malts begin to taste alike and like generic sherried malts. This is still very Clynelish. And sulphur-phobes should note that there’s not the slightest hint of sulphur here. Frankly, I had a bit of a hard time working the palate out, and am going to have to come back to it a few times before I get a decent sense of it.
Initial Rating: 84 points, but it may change.