Clynelish 7, 2008 (Signatory for Binny’s)

Clynelish 7, 2008; Signatory for Binny's
This Clynelish was acquired as part of the same set of bottle splits as last Friday’s Ardmore. If you read that review you’ll find many similar notes mentioned in this one but, as you’ll see, a much lower score at the end. This is a case where you have two whiskies at different ends of the same style continuum: a sort of old-school Highlands profile. The Ardmore is peatier, of course, but there are other similarities. The problem here is that some of the notes that are either more muted in that Ardmore, or which dissipate with time, are stronger here and linger; and this one doesn’t have the compensations of the Ardmore. It’s also quite far away from what most people have come to expect from Clynelish in terms of “distillery character“. This is down partly, I think, to the young age. Some of these off-notes might well have dissipated with more time (and less wood contact in a slightly larger hogshead) and other characteristics might have emerged. 

I wouldn’t recommend a bottle but I think, flaws and all, it’s not an un-educational malt—at the split price I have absolutely no regrets. I do have a little more of this left from my share—I’m going to let that get more air for a few more weeks and then I’ll come back to it and see if there’s any change of note.

Interesting that Binny’s picked at least two malts in this general profile—it makes me wonder if their Glen Garioch will also be similar (that’s another distillery that often presents these kinds of austere qualities).

Clynelish 7, 2008 (63.8%; Signatory for Binny’s; bourbon barrel 800001; from a bottle split)

Nose: Some lemon, some minerally/plasticky notes and then whiffs of engine oil and a vegetal/rooty astringency. This needs air and probably a fair bit of water. With time the lemon expands some. With water there’s an aspirin’ish note.

Palate: Starts with something sweet and then there’s a bit of lemon before the bitter plasticky, vegetal notes come crashing in. Oily texture. More of the same on the second sip but this time the sweet notes (minerally) and the lemon (zest) get more play. There’s hope for this. With time the lemon turns to lime by which I mean both the acidic fruit and the bitter peel; the sweeter notes expand too. Sweeter still with water and less bitter—the plasticky thing is back though.

Finish: Medium. The bitter notes don’t last, thankfully, and at the end there’s the saline notes I usually get from Clynelish. There’s something medicinal building too (not in an Islay peaty way). With water the plasticky notes last well into the finish.

Comments: Blind I would probably have guessed this was a Tobermory—this is on account of the vegetal notes. It seemed like it had potential with time and water but it didn’t really pan out.  It does better with some patience but you might not think that what emerges is quite worth it anyway.

Rating: 76 points.


9 thoughts on “Clynelish 7, 2008 (Signatory for Binny’s)

  1. Interesting… I did not get such strong vegetal notes. For me, the mineral lemon notes stood out… almost like a “Fisherman’s friend” type of pastille, which is a taste I personally like a lot. Hence I would have rated this whisky higher than you, say, around 80-82.


  2. I often find it hard to distinguish between a “plastic note” and high alcoholic strength. Plus I like a certain astringent mouthfeel to go with my whiskey (one of the reasons I usually don’t like rum etc.).


  3. Agreed… I also should say that I am a Clynelish fan and, hence, I am sure that I am biased towards anything that comes out of this distillery. Plus I am also somebody who likes to drink single malts for the very reason that they can be (very) unorthodox/strange/unappealing to the general palate. I admit that I never thought too much about my own “rating scale” and hence I am not sure if my grade would stand up against some of my other bottles in my cabinet. I just think that in this day and (internet) age where 76/100 might mean for many readers = “not worth bothering” that this is not totally fair to this Clynelish bottling, which is a truly interesting spirit to taste, no matter the scale.


    • Yes. This is why I noted before getting to the review that though I didn’t care for it overmuch I do think it’s a malt worth checking out anyway (which is not something I would say about every whisky I score in the 70s). With all its flaws (as perceived by me, at any rate) it’s certainly no cookie-cutter malt.


  4. P.S. I very much agree with your assessment that it almost tastes like a Tobermory. Another one of these strange malts, everyone should taste at least once in his/her life … and one of these malts that I believe get too little recognition for their unique character.


  5. Drinking this again tonight with the bottle having sat at the halfway mark for more than a month and it seems to have improved on the palate (less astringent/plasticky). I am recovering from a mild cold though so it’s possible that I’m just not tasting everything. I’ll try it again in a couple of days and if it seems different then too I might re-review it.


  6. I’m tasting your sample MAO. I find the lemon/lime zest note quite dominant. There’s a faint artificial/chemical element to it – tiki torch citronella? The other big dimension is that of fresh/young wood, that “green” note that I often used to find in craft American whiskies. I suspect that’s what you call the vegetal/rooty astringency. However, I would never associate that with Tobermory – maybe because I’m a Tobermory fan (nothing farmy or cabbagy here). The clean, oily, lemony texture and flavors also remind me of single grain whiskies – as do the lack of development and the absence of malty, cereal notes.

    All in all an interesting experience, totally fun as a sample but more problematic if it were a full bottle. 80pts.


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