Behold the handiwork of Sku, that magnificent bastard. When we met for lunch in Los Angeles, he handed over the box of samples he had for me and said, “After all the grief you gave me last time, I made a real effort with the labels this time”. Of course, when I got home I discovered that while he had indeed made clear labels, he’d put some of them at the base of the bottles and some over the lids; and others (like last week’s Laphroaig 16) over older labels that were still visible. A true artist, I expect his work will soon be featured at MOMA.
Like the aforementioned Laphroaig 16, this Clynelish was also bottled by Signatory for The Whisky Exchange. An 18 yo, this is also from a sherry cask. Let’s see if this is as good as that Laphroaig.
Clynelish 18, 1996 (55.5%; Signatory for The Whisky Exchange; single sherry cask 6509; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Nutty, raisiny sherry to start but there’s something dirty/farmy mixed in there too. Gets rubberier and sharper on the second sniff and then those notes begin to calm down a bit. After a minute or so there’s only a bit of the sulphury sharpness left but quite a bit still that’s organic and leafy. Gets sweeter and more peppery and also more oaky with time; a bit of cola too and then increasing brine. With a lot more time the plum and apricot from the palate begin to show up here too. Some menthol coolness too. With more time the apricot note gets quite intense. A few drops of water brighten it up further and bring back some of the leafy quality.
Palate: No sulphur here worth remarking; unfortunately, not much else worth remarking either. Some dried orange peel and that leafy note from the nose and then some bitter oak. Sweeter on the second sip but it’s an indistinct sweetness. With more time there’s more fruit along with the orange (plum, apricot) and some chocolatey notes. Okay, let’s see what water does. Fruitier with water and the oak gets pushed back.
Finish: Medium. No new development and the sherry separates at the end, leaving the taste of blood in my mouth. Gets spicier as it goes. As on the palate with water: more fruit and less oaky/spicy.
Comments: The spirit is overwhelmed by the sherry on the palate at first and it’s quite woody too. Mellows out as it goes: the nose improves with time and the palate improves dramatically with water (getting much fruitier). One that needs some time (and a few drops of water). Still, there’s not a whole lot of Clynelish character here; if you’re not looking for that but for a big, sherried whisky this might be for you.
Rating: 85 points.