It’s intoxicating, being a blogger who posts reviews of currently available whiskies! After Monday’s Bowmore, here is another Signatory exclusive for The Whisky Exchange. I’d guess they were released at the same time (were there others?). This one is quite a bit cheaper despite being older and despite being from another name distillery and also despite being from a sherry cask. As to whether being from a sherry cask is a good thing for Clynelish is another matter. There are those who believe that Clynelish is Clynelish only when matured in bourbon casks. Me, I like to keep an open mind. I’ve previously liked my fair share of ex-sherry Clynelish—including this one that was also distilled in 1995—and I’ve also had ex-bourbon Clynelish, including those from the alleged, magic year of 1997 that did not get me too excited. And even if it isn’t very Clynelish I’m not going to be too disappointed as long as it’s at least a good whisky.
Clynelish 21, 1995 (54.7%; Signatory for TWE; refill sherry cask #8676; from a bottle split)
Nose: Obvious sherry, yes, but not a sherry bomb: leafy with apples and berries and a touch of lemon peel. Gets a bit earthier as it sits (dried mushrooms) and there’s more oak too. With more time there’s a biscuity note that shows up as well. With a few drops of water it’s nuttier and there’s some milk chocolate too, but it’s still quite leafy.
Palate: Dry arrival with a lot more salt than on the nose. Sweeter as I swallow. Highly drinkable at full strength with only a bit of oaky bite. Sweeter on the second and third sip and there’s some cocoa powder in there too now. The oak spice pops out quicker with time and the berries from the nose show up here too. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, it doesn’t do anything very exciting: knocks the oak/spice back a bit but doesn’t bring out anything new.
Finish: Long. It’s the salt and the oak that dominate—the wood getting spicier as it goes. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is nothing very unusual—and no, it’s not very Clynelish—but it is quite nice. If you’re looking to buy a 21 yo whisky from a name distillery for £120 then this may fit the bill. I liked it as much as the Bowmore, which is a fair bit more expensive.
Rating: 87 points.