As we wait, wait, wait for election results to come in, here is a review of a Clynelish: my third review overall of a 20+ yo Clynelish from 1989 and only my second Clynelish review for the year. Data! Everyone loves meaningless data, right? Maybe I’ll apply for a job at fivethirtyeight.com. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, this is the third 1989 Clynelish I’ve had and it’s the third from a bourbon cask to boot. The previous two were 22 and 23 years old, respectively and I liked the 23 yo more than the 22 yo. This one is 24 years old. That might seem like a guarantee of extra goodness but that extra year could have been fatal. Let’s see if that was indeed the case.
Clynelish 24, 1989 (53.1%; Adelphi; refill bourbon cask 3846; from my own bottle)
Nose: Honey, lemon zest, a bit of pepper and yes, wax. A little grassier on the second sniff and a little herbal (sage). Gets more savoury as it sits with some ham brine. With more time there’s some sweeter fruit (apricot). Not a tremendous change with water: some cream, less ham, but otherwise more or less the same mix.
Palate: As predicted by the nose with the lemon zest and pepper a bit more pronounced. Very approachable at full strength and a nice, full texture. The lemon zest expands on the second sip but there’s also an oaky bitterness rising up with it. Ah, with time/air the bitterness eases up and the wax expands and the honey amps up with it. Okay, let’s see what water does. Ah yes, it pushes the bitter notes back completely and brings out more of the honey, lemon (candied peel now) and wax; a hint of paraffin as it sits—or is that camphor?
Finish: Long. The grassy note expands a bit here and it’s just a touch too bitter as it fades. Develops as on the palate with the honey and lemon hanging out for a while. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Excellent bourbon cask Clynelish and a clear sibling of those other two 1988s. No flaws, once that initial bitterness on the palate resolves and it straddles that very Clynelish line between austere and rich. I expect this will get a lot better as the bottle stays open—this was only the third pour. I’ll report on the life of the bottle (if I remember).
Rating: 88 points.