Clynelish, Distillery Exclusive, 2018 Release

We stopped at Clynelish on the way from Dornoch to Scrabster, where we boarded the ferry to Stromness on Orkney. Well, more immediately, we stopped at Clynelish on the way to Wick. I was scheduled to tour Pulteney at 2, but it seemed rash to drive by Clynelish without even stopping. I hadn’t planned to buy anything there but when I was in the distillery shop I chatted a bit with one of the staff and she offered me a taste of the current  distillery exclusive. Apparently this was selected by the distillery staff, though they had no idea of the age or composition (or they would not say). It’s not a bottle-your-own—they had loads of it on the shelves. I quite liked it and couldn’t resist overpaying for a bottle. Why do I say “overpaying”? Well, because I paid £80 for an NAS whisky, and one that’s not at cask strength. Yes, unlike the 2008 edition—which may have been the previous distillery exclusive—this is bottled at 48%. That’s not a bad abv per se, but the price is still high (as it was at Oban and Talisker last year—and their distillery exclusives were NAS as well). I’ll probably have a post later this month with some thoughts on the whole “distillery only”/”bottle your own” thing. For now here’s a review of the whisky itself. I opened it for my local group’s July tasting and we all liked it a fair bit. 

Clynelish, Distillery Exclusive, 2018 Release (48%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Lemon zest, salt, grass, a hint of paraffin and, yes, a bit of wax. Some tart-sweet apple on the second sniff and some malt. Gets a bit sweeter as it sits (icing sugar). With time the lemon zest and paraffin notes split the difference at citronella and the malt expands. With a drop of water the paraffin returns.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but with a slight bitterness on the edges. Nice texture and depth at 48%. A little more resinous with time. Maltier here too with time. Water emphasizes the malt and the sweeter notes and pushes back the bitter edge.

Finish: Medium. No new development here. With more time the fruit gets muskier as it fades (some melon). A hint of cocoa with water.

Comments: This is not what I would call a good value at the price I paid but it’s very good whisky of its type. No fireworks, no complexity but it’s pretty flawless. Probably more for Clynelish aficionados. Most people, I think, would be happier with two of the 14 yo for almost the same price (in the US anyway). I would probably do that myself instead of buying a second bottle of this—which is not to say I regret having bought it.

Rating: 87 points.

Tomorrow I’ll have a write-up of my stop at Balblair and next week I’ll report on the Clynelish stop in more detail.

2 thoughts on “Clynelish, Distillery Exclusive, 2018 Release

  1. I recognise that Balblair box in the background ;)

    And wow, £80 is steep for NAS at a diluted strength. Most distilleries (non-Diageo at least) price their 10-12 year old bottle your own casks at that range.


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