Much like Talisker on the isle of Skye, Clynelish Distillery has it’s roots in a dark period of Scotland’s history known as the ‘Highland Clearances’. The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland evicted much of the local crofting population to make way for what they saw as more profitable uses of their land. As well as extensive sheep farming, the Duke established several new businesses in and around the town of Brora – one of which was Clynelish Distillery.
Expansion in 1968 saw the construction of a new distillery opposite the original and while the Clynelish name transferred to the new site, the original was renamed Brora and continued to produce spirit until 1983. Since it’s closure, single malt from Brora has developed something of a cult following amongst whisky connoisseurs and can change hands for thousands of pounds. Clynelish meanwhile continues to operate today with an excellent 14 year old bottling from owners Diageo, widely available.
Such is the depth of the Clynelish character, the spirit is hugely popular amongst blenders and casks occasionally end up in the hands of independent bottlers. This particular expression was released by Berry Bros. & Rudd, the oldest Wine and Spirit’s Merchant in the UK.
Berry Bros & Rudd has operated from it’s flagship store in St. James Street, London since 1698. Holders of two royal warrants, they count Lord Byron and William Pitt the Younger amongst their customers of old. Today, Berry’s own the Glenrothes single malt brand and bottle single cask, single malts from a variety of distilleries.
Bottled at 55.5%, distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2014 from cask number 6871.
On the nose there’s Vanilla, Honey, Fresh Orange, Lemon and Barley with Candlewax and a touch of Bonfire Smoke. The palate meanwhile is Salty and Briney with Creamy Vanilla, Heather Honey and subtle wafts of Peat Smoke that meander throughout.
The Scores: About the Scoring System…
Smell: Very distinctive, characterful whisky.
Taste: I enjoy Clynelish and this Berry’s dram is no exception. Big flavour and a fantastic mouth feel.
Value for Money: Came in around the £60 mark – not a lot to pay for a mature single malt of this character and quality – bottled at cask strength and without chill filtering.
Overall: 44.5 / 50. In many ways it’s a great example of how to do the simple things well. Good quality spirit matured in a decent bourbon cask for a good amount of time and naturally presented. Great stuff – and exactly what I’ve come to expect from Berry’s.