Clynelish, 24yo 1990 Cadenhead’s London Exclusive
(Distilled 1990, Bottled April 2014, 228 bottles, 47.5%)
I’m not terribly good at picking favourites. I’d struggle to put together my top ten albums or novels. But my favourite distillery? Easy – it’s Clynelish.
Nose: Lemons and limes (mostly lemons), apricots and apples. Wax! Very Clynelish, with some grassy and herbal notes underneath. Thyme.
Taste: The strength is perfect. Waxy lemons, a trace of smoke, Mediterranean herbs, honey. There’s an elderflower note too which is just lovely.
Finish: Dry with a limestone minerality. Preserved lemons and a touch of salt and smoke. Long.
One of the reasons for my love of Clynelish is the abundance of available indie bottlings: it’s a distinctive spirit but there’s endless variation in how it can express itself. Sometimes it’s fresh and maritime, sometimes it’s dry and austere, sometimes it’s fruity and floral. This bottle though is sort of ur-Clynelish: bang in the middle of all the permutations in its essential form. It’s elegant, balanced and restrained, but hits all the spots you’d want it to hard. Maybe not the best place to start with Clynelish (one of the 1997 Signatory bottles would be my suggestion), but fantastic for the initiate.