The Clynelish distillery is situated on the northeastern coast of Scotland, in the town of Brora. Founded in 1819, it was originally known as Brora, and would be for quite a few years until a new distillery was built along side the old in 1968; the whisky produced in the new distillery, still a part of the same company, would instead be given the name Clynelish.
It is not at all unlikely that you will never have seen or even heard of Clynelish single malt, and there’s a simple reason for that; only 1% of the whisky distilled is sold as single malt, with the rest going in to the Johnnie Walker blend.
That’s enough history, though; let’s move on to the fun stuff. One of the most important aspects of whisky tasting is serving, and this particular single malt is best served at room temperature (so skip the ice cube, and I’m looking at you here – Americans!) and, as always, the choice of glass is important. Generally speaking a tumbler is a-ok, but a tulip-shaped glass will bring out the smell in a better way (plus it rests much nicer in the palm of your hand, which in my opinion adds further to the experience).
Add water as you wish; some prefer it, others don’t like it one bit. What it comes down to is a matter of taste. If you’re going to add water, I’d recommend going for nice quality bottled water, as tap water can sometimes be a bit harsh.
Eye: Light, brownish-yellow
Nose: Salty, somewhat floral, spicy and fruity.
The first whiff will bring to mind peat, a bit of smoke, dried pineapple and sea salt. Quite a few people also report a nostril-pinch of iodine. A deeper, slower, slower breath will reveal sub tones of sweet toffee and vanilla. On the whole it is not at all harsh, rather like a caressing breeze of gentle scents.
As is often the case, especially with single malts, the taste is unsurprisingly similar to the nose with the same gentle, lingering, complex flavors making themselves known to the palate, much in the same order as above. The pineapple turns into more of a general sweet dried fruit. The finish is magnificent, with the salt and smokiness taking a step forward to become the dominating flavors.
To summarize, this is a fantastic, mild-mannered yet complex whisky. At about $50, you could do a lot worse.