Clynelish, Distillery Only (2008 Release)

Clynelish is another of Diageo’s iconic distilleries from which very few official expressions are available. There’s the always reliable 14 yo and a Distiller’s Edition—which sees that 14 yo “finished” in oloroso casks, and which is not as easily found in the US as the Lagavulin and Talisker Distiller’s Editions. That’s pretty much it. Diageo have not yet gotten around to releasing a regular NAS Clynelish, though one such did come out as part of their annual Special Release collection a couple of years ago. This one is an official release but when released in 2008, it was only available at the distillery. It is an NAS bottle—-back in 2008 nobody got exercised about NAS releases—and I have no idea how old it is or is rumoured to be in reality. (I purchased the bottle at auction in the UK a while ago.) I’m not sure if Clynelish regularly releases “distillery only” bottles. If all goes according to plan, I might stop at Clynelish in June and I guess I might take a look and see. For now here’s my review of an exclusive from a decade ago. 

Clynelish, Distillery only (57.3%; 2008 release; from my own bottle)

Nose: Yeasty and chalky with lemon and brine. After a few minutes there’s some tart apple as well. Gets a little sweeter and resinous with time but remains rather austere on the whole. With more time still there’s some softer fruit (plum?). With a drop or two of water there’s citronella and, sure, let’s say some wax; and yes, that’s plum and it’s joined by a berry note

Palate: Pretty much as advertised by the nose with some white pepper in addition to the acid and tart fruit. Quite a bit of bite at full strength. Opens up nicely with a touch of water: more fruit (as on the nose), more pepper, a touch of smoke; the chalky, yeasty notes recede.

Finish: Medium. Gets saltier as it goes but nothing new emerges. Longer and spicier with water.

Comments: Neat, this is flawless but nothing special. With a bit of water it opens up and comes alive. Not sure if I’d pay the auction price again but it would have been a great deal at whatever the price was in 2008.

Rating: 87 points.

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