This Clynelish 14, from the Whiskybase boys for their Archives range, was opened last November for the same Clynelish tasting I hosted for some friends that featured the OB 14, a Malts of Scotland 22 yo, and a Single Malts of Scotland 28 yo. I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to get around to reviewing this one. It’s not because I don’t like it—I’ve been drinking it down at a steady pace.
That exhausts my patter: so let’s get right to it.
Clynelish 14, 1997 (53.9%; Archives; bourbon hogshead 4634; from my own bottle)
Nose: An almost chalky tartness to start, resolving into lemon and sour apple. Some brine too after a minute. Stays quite acidic with time but a sweeter note does emerge (I’m going to call it apple as well). A faint whiff of paraffin, just bordering on smoky. With a lot more time the acid recedes a bit and there’s a sauvignon blanc’ish thing going on. Water pulls out more of the sweeter apple and the paraffin turns to mothballs.
Palate: Starts sweeter than the nose with some melon but then the acid comes barreling in: chalky tartness again with a grassy edge to the lemon. More oak influence too: vanilla, a light creaminess. On the second sip the tart notes are front and center. Not much change with time, but the sweeter fruit seem to go in and out. The acid makes the abv seem higher than it is. Better balance with water.
Finish: Long. The lemon gets more zesty and peppery but the sweeter notes re-emerge as well. Not as much salt as I usually get on the finish with Clynelish. Gets just a little soapy with time. The soap gets a little more obtrusive with water but the sweeter notes expand too.
Comments: A classic bourbon cask profile. Drinking it by itself I might have said it wasn’t the most Clynelishy Clynelish I’ve ever had but my notes from the tasting mark the clear through-lines we found between this one and the two older bourbon cask Clynelishes we had that night. Better then to say that this is not the profile the distillery aims for in their 14 yo. A good whisky for the summer: if not for the chalkiness and the hint of soap at the end I’d have this higher.
Rating: 85 points.