Clynelish 11 (Murray McDavid 1995) Review

This is an 11 year Clynelish that is made up ex-bourbon and ex-port matured distillate that was further finished in vintage port casks before being bottled at 46%.

Nose: Typical Clynelish notes are bold off the bat: waxy, sweet pears, baked apples, and honeydew melon. Somewhat grassy with a bit of sawdust quality coming through from the oak.

Palate: The port influence shows up here more clearly as grape juice notes are added to the typical Clynelish makeup. Very fruity overall with dominant notes of spiced pears and tangerine.

Finish: Peach sorbet and pear juice with faint oak lingering.

Rating: 89/100 – A very pleasant surprise. I’m admittedly a Clynelish fanboy, but these Murray McDavids can be very interesting with their cask vattings/additional finishing processes. Doesn’t taste like 46% at all to me – I would’ve guessed 50%+.

Value for the money: Based on typical Murray McDavid prices of this age, I’d venture to guess this retailed between $60-80, and I would gladly buy a bottle at that price if I saw one.

Clynelish 12 (Murray McDavid 1995) Review

This is a 12 year Clynelish matured in bourbon/sherry/madeira casks and ACE’d in madeira casks. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: Loads of funky wine notes with a kind of musty sherry and some odd motor oil type notes. Strawberry and cherries evident in the wine notes.

Palate: Very heavy grape notes with waxy fruits still coming through – pears and apples. Slightly malty, but overall a wine bomb.

Finish: Wine notes and tannins linger with strawberries.

Rating: 84/100 – A bit heavy handed with the madeira/sherry, but enjoyable as a dessert type pour.

Value for the money: I think I paid around $80 or so for this, and that’s an ok price if a bit high. Would like to see it closer to $60 or so.

Clynelish 16 (Liquid Library 1997/2013) Review

This is a 16 Clynelish matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 52.1% ABV.

Nose: Cinnamon and apples with wildflowers, heather, vanilla, sawdust, and subtle pears. Not quite as fruity as I normally find Clynelish while heavier on the floral notes.

Palate: Musty, earthy oak with mushrooms, pears, pineapple gummies, and a fairly floral malt. Again, a departure from typical Clynelish profile here.

Finish: Dries out quickly with musty oak and subtle fruits.

Rating: 84/100 – A slightly odd, mustier Clynelish that threw me for a bit of a loop at first. Still good though – just not what I was expecting.

Value for the money: I think I paid around $125-150 all in from an EU site a few years back, and I don’t think I’d buy again at that price.

Clynelish 16 (Blackadder Raw Cask 1990) Review

This is 16 year old Clynelish matured in an ex-sherry cask and bottled at 58% ABV.

Nose: Heavy butyric acid with some sulphur in the background, sour and funky malt, young oak, slight gasoline and acetone notes – not sure what’s going on with this cask, but not a great intro for this malt.

Palate: Very acidic up front before some stewed fruit notes poke through a bit, very woody and heavily spiced – most of those off notes from the nose disappear here.

Finish: A bit of sulphury sherry with a strong metallic off taste lingering.

Rating: 70/100 – I think this is the first dud of a Clynelish I’ve had – disappointing to say the least. The nose is generally unpleasant, but the palate redeems it a bit before the lackluster finish.

Value for the money: I believe this retailed in the neighborhood $150ish and I would avoid at any price.

Clynelish 20 (Signatory Vintage 1995/2016 Cask #8685) Review

This is a 20 year Clynelish matured in a refill sherry butt and bottled at 50.3% ABV.

Nose: Sherry dominant with baking spices, floral notes, waxy malt with spiced pears, dates, and wet slate.

Palate: Sherry still predominant note with pears and melon, subtle floral notes, and gun flint – quite buttery overall with damp oak and new leather.

Finish: Oak turns slightly bitter as cocoa emerges to linger alongside the sweet sherry.

Rating: 89/100 – A pretty standard heavily sherried Clynelish – the nice thing is they are usually fairly good, so the standard is quite high in my opinion. This expression has some great sherry notes without overwhelming the Clynelish malt profile.

Value for the money: This retailed around €115 which I think is a pretty good price – not sure what they can be found for now at auction, but I wouldn’t pay a whole lot over original retail.

SMWS 26.67 “Candlewax and red berries” (Clynelish 25) Review

This is a 25 year Clynelish expression from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in an ex-sherry refill butt and bottled at 48.9% ABV.

Nose: Spiced pears topped with brown sugar, lavender, damp oak with a tiny tinge of smoke, and subtle berries.

Palate: Big, waxy apples drizzled with honey, cardamom, freshly baked wheat bread, and a bit of pear.

Finish: Kick of black pepper with cinnamon coated baked apples.

Rating: 89/100 – These 25+ year Clynelishes from the Society have been very consistently good in my experience thus far.

Value for the money: This is an older bottling that sold out long ago, but typically these 25+ Clynelishes retail around $250-$290 from the Society, and I think they make a pretty solid buy given their consistency/quality.

SMWS 26.99 “The Fisherman’s Friend” (Clynelish 23) Review

This is a 23 year Clynelish from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in an ex-bourbon refill barrel and bottled at 48.5% ABV.

Nose: Waxy pears and wildflower honey followed by some lavender and chamomile. Wisps of smoke with vanilla develop after a minute with brown sugar and maple syrup.

Palate: Spiced honey with crisp honeydew melon and sugar cookies. Turns rather floral after a bit and maintains a rather diverse bouquet of floral notes throughout.

Finish: Dried herbs and old oak with subtle nutmeg and stonefruit.

Rating: 91/100 – One of the more floral heavy Clynelish’s I’ve had, but it’s always nice having something that diverges from the typical waxy fruit profile of their’s.

Value for the money: I’m guessing this retailed for about $200 when it was released last year, and I’d be content with a bottle at that price.

SMWS 26.105 “Bumblebees by the sea” (Clynelish 29) Review

This is a 29 year Clynelish from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that was matured in an ex-sherry refill butt and bottled at 57.6% ABV.

Nose: Musty antique store, sour cherries, vanilla, and butterscotch. The sherry influence is very negligible to me – I wouldn’t have even guessed it was sherry cask matured – strikes me as more of an ex-bourbon cask. Wonder how many refills this cask was and what type of sherry (guessing Fino maybe?).

Palate: Cherry cough drops, red hots, weathered oak, full of spices – again not very sweet/fruity here as you’d expect from this long of a sherry cask maturation.

Finish: Mint and dried oak with red jolly ranchers and honey.

Rating: 90/100 – A solid, older Clynelish, but I do wish the sherry influence was a bit more apparent here. I did like the 26.102 Clynelish 29 quite  a bit better as it had more of the typical waxy fruits I expect from Clynelish.

Value for the money: This was $220 on the SMWS shop which is a tad high, but for a 29 year malt, not a bad price in general. I would buy the next older Clynelish they release at that same price.

Clynelish 21 (Cadenhead Small Batch K&L Selection) Review

This is a 21 year Clynelish from Cadenhead that was selected by K&L Wines. It was bottled at 52.4% ABV. I presume this was aged in a second or third refill ex-bourbon cask based on my notes.

Nose: Salty, playdough like malt with heather and crayons. Weathered oak infused with apple cider.

Palate: Honeydew melon, some oak tannins mixed among the a floral malt with dried herbs.

Finish: Buttery oak with herbs fading gently and subtle vanilla.

Rating: 84/100 – Not quite the Clynelish style I prefer. I do enjoy non-sherry finished Clynelish, but this one left me wanting a bit on the palate and finish.

Value for the money: This is going for $140 on K&L at the moment, and I wouldn’t buy again at that price. I’d like to see this priced closer to $80-$90.

Clynelish 17 (A.D. Rattray Cask 4631) Review

This is a 17 year Clynelish expression that was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being bottled by A.D. Rattray at 56.1% ABV.

Nose: Strong, musty oak up front – ex-bourbon cask is readily apparent. Bright, crisp malt follows with notes of mango.

Palate: Sweet and spicy with fresh peppercorns. Oak is quite strong given its age.

Finish: Bitter fruits, heavy oak, and malt linger awhile.

Rating: 87/100

Value for the money: These retailed around $50 (375ml) which is a pretty fair price in my book.