Clynelish 8, 2010 (SMWS)

Alas, I don’t have another Ardmore with which to make this a full week of Ardmore reviews to match last week’s Benromach trio. But I do have a sample of another SMWS malt with which to make it a week of SMWS review. Let’s go a bit to the west and then to the north, to Clynelish. After Wednesday’s red wine finish misadventure we’re back to a bourbon cask. Unlike Monday’s Ardmore, however, this is a barrel, not a hogshead and it’s a first-fill not refill cask; it’s also much younger. That combination of a smaller cask size and more active wood can be an overbearing one for a young whisky such as this; but in theory, at least, Clynelish’s spirit should be able to stand up to it. Let’s see if that’s been the case here.

Clynelish 8, 2010 (57.5%; SMWS 26.104; first-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)

Nose: Toasted oak, ripe pear, apple cider, sweet malt. Very nice indeed. As it sits sweeter notes come to the fore—more apple along with the pear–but the oak and the cider are still here. With water and a few beats the fruit gets muskier: lemon peel, pineapple.

Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose but with much more acid—lemon, cider. Packs a big punch at full strength but approachable enough. Turns salty as I swallow. The salt is to the fore on the second sip. As it sits the salt recedes and there’s more of the toasted oak and more malt along with some aniseed. Not finding much that I could talk myself into describing as the signature Clynelish wax. Gets sweeter as it goes and then with even more time there’s a sour note that pops out, somewhere between yeasty and chalky.. Let’s see what water does. It brings out more oak and the sweetness gets more floral.

Finish: Long. The salt continues, mixing with some malt as it goes. Less salty here too with time. The oak gets pricklier with water and there’s a leafy note as well.

Comments: The nose started out strong and was, on the whole the best part of this. The palate is solid too but there’s nothing very special going on here. For an 8 yo though it’s quite good even if it ends up in a sort of first-fill bourbon mean.

Rating: 85 points.


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