Clynelish 22, 1972, Rare Malts

Clynelish 22, 1972, Rare Malts

After a run of peated Islays last week—two Laphroaigs from 1997 (this one for TWE and this one for Binny’s) and a Bowmore from the 1970s—let’s do something a little milder this week.

1970s Clynelish, especially from the early 1970s, has a very strong reputation. And Diageo’s Rare Malts series also has a very strong reputation. As such I am expecting this to be very good—I am certainly expecting it to be much better than the 7 yo bottled by Signatory for Binny’s. But will it be better than the 28 yo, 1982 bottled by TWE in their Single Malts of Scotland line? Or better than the 17 yo Manager’s Dram? I can only hope. It’s not like I have a lot of experience with older Clynelish—though next month I expect to review a couple more. Anyway, let’s get to it.  

Clynelish 22, 1972, Rare Malts (58.64%; from a bottle split)

Nose: Honey, honey, honey with a grassy, slightly prickly/peppery edge plus a touch of powdered ginger. On the second sniff there’s some lemon peel and some drier, organic notes—hay, sackcloth. The citrus peel intensifies as it sits and now there’s something inky with it, or is that sea shells? That prickly/peppery note turns oily—somewhere between olive and almond oil. Sweeter fruit too under it all but water might be needed to fully release it. Oh wait, patience is good too: peach at first and then more tropical with papaya and pineapple. More of the sweeter fruit with water along with some floral accents.

Palate: The palate is more closed at first, with only the honey and citrus making a strong impression. Nice mouthfeel, thick in almost a starchy kind of way (malt, I guess). Begins to open up here too as it did on the nose, or maybe it took my palate a sip to adjust to the strength: the bitter citrus peel here too—more lime than lemon—and more pepper but only teasing hints of the other fruit. Let’s give it a bit more time and then try some water. Well, it does get a bit sweeter with time but not fruitier. A few drops of water actually make the citrus more intense; it also pulls out more fruit but, as on the nose, I’m not getting the tropical hit I was hoping for.

Finish: Long. No new development; it’s the bitter citrus peel that lingers. And more or less the same with water, though much longer and more intense. Wait, there’s some spicy oak at the very end.

Comments: A wonderful nose but it didn’t really do as much for me on the palate and finish. Which is not to say that it was disappointing on the palate and finish, far from it—it’s just that it didn’t match the nose there. Reminded me of the Glen Ord 30 as much as the 28 yo, 1982 from Single Malts of Scotland—I think I liked both of those a bit better.

Rating: 89 points.

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