Another Clynelish. This is from a refill sherry hogshead. That’s a little unusual, as sherry casks are usually butts or puncheons which are much larger than hogsheads. So this would have been a cask remade from a broken down butt or puncheon. You might think that would lead to far more intense sherry flavours (as the spirit has greater wood contact in smaller casks) but this is a refill cask, which might mean its been used anywhere between 2-4 times before. It’s also possible–though I stress that this is pure speculation–that butts/puncheons might be broken down to hogsheads when they get relatively exhausted in order to get one more filling’s worth of flavour extraction out of them. At any rate, as you will see, this is not particularly sherried.
Clynelish 14, 1997 (53.7%; Whiskybroker, refill sherry hogshead 6884; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Mildly sherried–some fruit (oranges, apricot), some brine, a faint whiff of smoke. Gets quite salty as it sits and there’s some dusty wood too. With more time the salt recedes and it’s the oranges and apricots that are the main event, along with a hint of maple syrup. Very nice. After more time the brine/salt comes back again. Water seems to make it even brinier, but somehow also more balanced/integrated. Ah, the fruit are now getting a little musky/fermented.
Palate: Citrus and spicy wood–makes my palate tingle. Gets salty as soon as I swallow. Hotter than the abv would suggest. Not getting the Clynelish wax. With subsequent sips it’s increasingly orangey and there’s a darker, chocolate/wood note as well; but I think it needs a touch of water to push the alcohol bite back and open it up. Hmmm, I don’t know if the water really improves it. The bite is gone, yes, but the dominant note now is the wood spice. Unlike the nose the palate doesn’t seem as balanced.
Finish: Medium–the wood spice and salt dominate. No real change with water.
Comments: I liked this a lot more on the nose than on the palate, especially with water. Not bad, but nothing special. Similar to my first experience with the sherried Signatory 13, 1995, but I grew to like that one a lot more. But at the price Whiskybroker charged for this it’s hard to complain.
Rating: 84 points.