Clynelish 11, 2008 (Signatory UCF)

This week of reviews of malts from Highland distilleries began with a 10 yo Loch Lomond/Inchmoan. Let’s go further north now to Clynelish in the northern highlands and add a year to the age. Unlike Monday’s Inchmoan, which was made with wine yeast used in the fermentation process, there is nothing, as far as I know, out of the ordinary about this Clynelish. It was released by Signatory in their Unchillfiltered Collection. Signatory released a few of these 11 year olds from the 2008 vintage and I’m sorry to say that not having realized that before this evening I failed to ask the source of my samples for more specific cask information—and now I can’t remember who the source of my samples was! As always, getting old is a lot of fun. Anyway, of those 2019 releases were from bourbon barrels and so we know what the cask type is. Anyway: bourbon cask Clynelish is almost always a good thing and Signatory has always been a good source of Clynelish casks. And so I am hopeful that this will not disappoint. Let’s see.

Clynelish 11, 2008 (46%; Signatory UCF; bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)

Nose: A mix of brine and a fair bit of char—as to whether the source is peat or a re-charred bourbon barrel, I cannot say. On the second and third sniffs fruit begins to poke its way out: apples, lemon, a hint of pineapple. The brine starts edging into salt. With a few drops of water there’s a big burst of citronella; some malt comes up from below as well.

Palate: Sweet arrival here with some of that char playing underneath. Nice texture and bite at 46%. The char expands with each sip. The sweeter fruit (apple mostly) is below it along with the salt. Pepper here too with time. Let’s see what water does. It pushes the char back and pulls out more of the sweeter notes: malt and apple.

Finish: Long. The char expands, picking up cracked black pepper. With water it’s sweeter here as well but the char returns in the form of coffee grounds and milky cocoa.

Comments: Well, this easily matched my hopes—possibly even exceeded them. Smokier than expected and the smoke/char blends seamlessly with the brine and the sweeter notes. No flaws as such, unless you count the lack of complexity or development as a flaw. I don’t: not in an 11 yo whisky at 46%. Good to see that Signatory is still putting out high quality whisky in this series.

Rating: 87 points.



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