Clynelish 1996 20-year-old (Signatory Vintage)

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Clynelish distillery was founded in 1819 by the Duke of Sutherland, who sought to maximize the profits from barley growing on his land. Situated a short distance from the small highland town of Brora, the distillery was built on Scotland’s stormy north-east coast.

Clynelish is known for producing a malt of rare character. It was so popular in fact that the distillery sold exclusively to private customers in its early days, able to completely forego the lucrative blending market. This practice couldn’t last however and by the 1960’s, demand from the big blending houses was so high, a second distillery had to be built just to keep up. Both premises ran under the Clynelish name for a time, before the original was eventually renamed Brora in the early 70’s.

While the new Clynelish distillery remains in operation today, Brora ceased production in 1983, making its malt something of a collector’s item in today’s market. Change is afoot however, with the announcement in late 2017 that owners Diageo plan to reopen Brora by the year 2020.

In the meantime Clynelish remains widely available, both as a 14 year old expression from the owners and through frequent single cask expressions from independent bottlers.

The Whisky

Bottled by Signatory Vintage, this Clynelish was distilled in 1996 and aged for 20 years in a hogshead before being bottled in 2016 at 46% abv.

Smell: Pineapple, Lemon, Vanilla, Candlewax, Pepper and a light touch of Smoke.

Taste: Lots of Fruit with Vanilla and Peppery Spice. Oak and Peat Smoke right at the finish.

Thoughts: A 20 year old single malt for £50 is remarkable, especially when it comes from a character distillery like Clynelish. One of the best bargains I’ve come across in recent times. It’s a beautiful whisky from an excellent distillery. Bravo to all at Signatory for unleashing this beauty at such a reasonable cost. Not a great deal of cask impact there, but you don’t need it when the spirit is this good. Clynelish just doesn’t disappoint. Lots of that waxy, fruity character the distillery is famed for. Excellent stuff.

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