Whiskey Review: Clynelish 14 Year Old

Clynelish 14 Year OldEditor’s Note: The Whiskey Wash welcomes the latest review from the Whiskey Noobs reviewing team

Clynelish (pronounced “Kline-Leash”, meaning “slope of the garden”) is eastern coast Highland Distillery. It was founded in 1819 by the Duke of Sutherland near the coastal resort town of Brora with the intention of using the grain from his tenants. It has been leased and sold to a number of people and companies in it’s time. In 1967 a new distillery was built next to the old distillery and, for a time, the two ran together being known as 1 and 2. Eventually the original site was renamed Brora and it began producing a more heavily peated scotch. For a time it’s peated scotch was used in blends to make up for a shortage of Islay scotch caused by a drought. Brora ceased operations in 1983. Clynelish has an affiliation with Johnnie Walker, being a pronounced ingredient in the Gold Label Reserve.

Our first taste of Clynelish was over 10 years ago, and it remains highly influential on my taste in Scotch. I knew that I was destined to like it as it was a Northern Highlands Scotch. It’s from the Sutherland region of the Highlands, which is pretty much as close to my wayback Scottish ancestors, The Clan Mackay. While the Sutherlands & Mackays may not have always been the best of friends historically, I can’t help but feel a certain kinship to the region. It’s the wide range of flavors, though, that is the real reason I can’t recommend this single malt enough. For the relatively reasonable price between $50-$60 it’s an affordable excellent scotch.

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Color: Straw

Nose: Orange blossom, pear, strong burn, slight brine

Palate: Burn, medicinal, brine, seaweed, mustard, peat

Finish: Long and sweet

w/ Water: Better, not as hot, long finish, fruity sweetness.

SCORE: 8.9


Color: Straw / light gold.

Nose: Strong burn at first but it soon settles and hints of pear and pear blossom appear, interestingly floral. Then there is the saltiness that’s more common in island scotches. It’s not as pronounced as an Islay, but there is a faint glimmer of peat.

Palate: Again I am hit by an initial burn but it opens up to a world of spiciness; pepper, coriander, and what Michael Jackson describes as “mustardy.” I’m not completely sold on that notion but it comes close to the warm and fragrant spice that I get. There’s also the lightly phenolic flavor of the peat and smoke, just enough to make you smile. And brine, I can’t forget about the saltiness that shows up at the end.

Finish: Oh, it’s long. Long and sweet, but not pulling back from the slightly spicy and salty flavors from the palate. They just linger and slowly fade.

w/Water: This is a scotch I can recommend a few drops of water. The nose loses much of the burn and it gives it a slightly sweeter palate and finish.

SCORE: 90 / 91 (with water)

Should you want to hunt down a bottle of the Clynelish 14 Year Old, here’s a list of online liquor retailers who may be carrying it.