Clynelish 23, 1995 (Single Cask Nation)

Okay, another single distillery week to close out the month (see last week’s Caol Ila reviews here, here and here). This will take the count of my year’s Clynelish reviews from zero to three. We’ll do these in decreasing order of age.

First up is a 23 yo distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2018 from a second-fill oloroso butt. I am among those who prefers Clynelish from bourbon casks or from refill sherry but I am also among those who manages to enjoy good whisky even if it doesn’t fit in his usual preferences. By the way, I have previously reviewed another Clynelish 23, 1995 that was also from a sherry butt (though that was described as a refill butt). That one was part of K&L’s 2019 exclusives and I liked it fine—as I also did a Clynelish 21, 1995 that was a Whisky Exchange exclusive and also from a sherry cask. Well, all of that suggests that the floor for this one is likely to be at least very good. Let’s see.

Clynelish 23, 1995 (52.4%; Single Cask Nation; second-fill oloroso butt; from a bottle split)

Nose: A very nice opening salvo of leafy sherry, dried orange peel and salt. On the second sniff the salt turns towards preserved lemon and there’s a lot more sweeter fruit (cherry, peach, blueberry); a touch of oak in the background and just the barest hint of savoury gunpowder. As it sits the leafy and acidic notes merge nicely and the fruit gets quite musky (some tart-sweet mango in there now); some hints of milky cocoa as well. A few drops of water both soften it and pull out the powdered ginger; the milky cocoa gets maltier.

Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose but with the fruit rather than the leafy sherry in the lead—the lemon is joined by some apricot jam. Rich texture. Salted nuts join the party on the second sip along with quite a bit of powdered ginger. As it sits there’s a medicinal quality—not in the phenolic-peaty sense but as in old-school medicine bottles with rubber stoppers—and quite a lot of lemon peel. The oak is very restrained. Okay, thiis is quite lovely but let’s add water before it all disappears. Less gingery with water here but otherwise brighter (citrus and salt). Mellower and more integrated on the whole now.

Finish: Long. The fruit and salt hang out for a while, the fruit getting more crystallized as it goes. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Well, this was quite a lot better than the two previous 1995s I mentioned in the preamble. Obviously sherried but not a generic sherry bomb. In fact, there’s a big crossover with Ben Nevis. A little less ginger is probably all I would ask for if I had a bottle—but I’d be very happy to own one anyway. As I was saying, I quite like Clynelish from sherry casks…

Rating: 90 points.


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