Clynelish 23, 1989 (Thosop Import)

On Monday I posted a review of an official Clynelish released a decade ago. Today I have another Clynelish, doubtless much older than the NAS distillery exclusive bottle, but released a few years later. This was bottled by the Belgian independent, Thosop Import, known both for the quality of its releases and the handwritten labels on the bottles. Thosop was originally set up by one-time Malt Maniac, Luc Timmermans, but I believe he quit the business a while ago. I think I recall that someone else took over the series. I’m not sure if it’s still a going concern—I suspect not, as Whiskybase doesn’t list anything from them after 2013. This particular Clynelish has a very strong reputation. I’ve not had too many older Clynelishes from the late 1980s, but the only other I’ve reviewed—a 22 yo from Malts of Scotland, also from 1989—was very good indeed. If this is at least as good, I’ll be happy. Let’s see. 

Clynelish 23, 1989-2012 (53.5%; Thosop; bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)

Nose: Honey, sweet lemon, a bit of apricot, mild grassiness and some wax. On the next wave arrive wet stones, ozone, and expanding saltiness. A hint of smoke in the back. Gets less grassy and more mineral with time. With more time the fruit intensifies and there’s some peach mixed in there too now. With water there’s some pastry crust added to the above.

Palate: As promised by the nose but with more of the fruit: lemon mostly but with a lot of the rind and zest. Lovely, oily mouthfeel. On the second sip it’s pricklier with pepper and even more lemon zest. With more time there’s a bit of pineapple (more tart than sweet) and some malt but the lemon zest is still in the lead. Water adds some orange to the citrus complex and brings out more of the musky fruit and malt.

Finish: Long. The lemon rind and white pepper hang out for a good while. As on the palate with water.

Comments: A more intense version of the Malts of Scotland 1989 that I mentioned above, with none of the chalk. Lovely stuff—wish I had a full bottle.

Rating: 90 points.


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