Clynelish 17, 1997 (C&S)


1997 is supposed to be the magic year for Clynelish. My last 1997 Clynelish lacked magic. It’s not the fault of that whisky: the whole magic vintage thing is a lot of bullshit. I will not bore you by going over all that again—if you’re interested you can read my views here and here. Let’s just get directly to this 17 yo from a bourbon hogshead, bottled a couple of years ago by C&S, a bottler based in Germany.

Clynelish 17, 1997 (47%;  C&S Dram Collection; bourbon hogshead #5730; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Citrus (lemon peel, orange), a faint grassiness, some brine and okay, I could be talked into a little wax. With more time there’s a biscuity/malty thing going on as well. Less grassy, more biscuity with water. 

Palate: A little sweeter, a little maltier but otherwise it’s all the stuff from the nose. Has a decent bite despite the relatively low abv but the mouthfeel is a bit thin. With time there’s more of the orange and more of the grass. Water pulls out a metallic note and more grass and pushes the balance off.

Finish: Medium-long. The sweetness expands and it’s increasingly simple-syrup’ish. Some oak too. Water washes it out a bit.

Comments: No complexity here but they don’t all need to be complex. This is a good, solid bourbon cask whisky of its type: fruity, grassy, malty. If you have an unopened bottle I’d recommend holding the water when you do open it.

Rating: 86 points.

6 thoughts on “Clynelish 17, 1997 (C&S)

  1. Just a little more data on the Clynelish/1997 thing:

    Here are the numbers from Whiskybase of Clynelish releases from the mid-late1990s vintages:

    1994: 16
    1995: 148
    1996: 122
    1997: 298
    1998: 53
    1999: 16

    The thing that jumps out at me here is that from the other 5 years combined there were only 57 more whiskies bottled than from the 1997 vintage alone. In fact there has been more 1997 Clynelish released than 1994, 1995 and 1996 put together. I have not added up and averaged the Whiskybase scores for every year (I don’t have that much time) but to the eye it doesn’t appear as though scores for 1997 are remarkable one way or the other. So I would guess that what’s happened is that there’s been a lot of 1997 Clynelish released and people remember the very good ones and forget the average ones. And then everybody repeats the magic year thing and it has a halo effect on the estimations/scores of some of those bottles because people are only human.

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  2. Just another quick note on the distorting effect of the total number of 1997 releases: Whiskybase lists a total of 1530 releases of Clynelish across all distillation years. This means that the 1997 releases alone account for almost a fifth of all Clynelish that has been released. There’s just more 1997 Clynelish out there to talk about and most of it has been released in the boom years of the whisky internet and has been within the reach of most drinkers.

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