Clynelish 23, 1990 (SMWSA 26.99)

Clynelish 23, 1990, SMWSA
Let’s close out the week with another bottle from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America. As with the Highland Park 22 I reviewed to start the week, I split this bottle with a number of whisky geeks, though I got more of this than than I did of the other. I’ve not had very many Clynelishes over the age of 20 and so I could not resist. Will this be as good as the Malts of Scotland 22 yo from 1989 that I reviewed earlier in the year? I can only hope. Let’s get right to it.

Clynelish 23, 1990 (48.5%; SMWSA 26.99, “The Fisherman’s Friend”; refill barrel; from a bottle split with a number of whisky geeks)

Nose: Honey, lime zest, green apples, a hint of melon. A bit of wax after a minute or two and then it starts getting grassier. With more time the citrus gets sweeter (oranges now) and then the muskier fruity notes expand. With a lot more time there’s a bit of vanilla. With a few drops of water the citrus turns to citronella and it gets less grassy. More vanilla and cream too now.

Palate: Very acidic arrival but not off-puttingly so: lots of lime (juice and zest); a touch of apple cider vinegar. Nice mouthfeel and quite punchy despite being below 50% abv. Some pepper as well on the second and third sips and it starts getting sweeter on the backend. Not much change with time (maybe a touch metallic); okay, time to add some water. Nope, no real development with water.

Finish: Medium-long. The zesty lime hangs around for a good while and then the grassy/metallic thing returns. With more time there’s some muskier fruit as well. Maybe some pepper with water.

Comments: This is a crisp, fruity Clynelish that starts out strong and is pleasurable enough throughout—except for the grassy/metallic notes that show up on the nose and finish. It must also be said that there’s not much complexity here, nor very many qualities that you can’t get in teenaged malts from bourbon casks (and it’s also closer to bourbon cask Speysiders than most Clynelishes I’ve had—in fact, I’d probably pick the Nadurra over this at less than a third of the price).

Rating: 85 points.

Thanks to Andrew for putting this split together.

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