One of the famous characteristics of Clynelish Whisky is a rich "waxy" flavor. No, it's not like eating a candle. More like orange zest with citrus saltwater taffy. There is a hint of smoke on the nose, but the front palate is light and soft with a long mandarin-orange-like finish.
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One of the reasons that they ran "old" and "new" Clynelish Distilleries concurrently for a while, was due to a shortage of Islay single malt available for blending in 1970s.
"Old" Clynelish (Brora), was converted to producing a peated Whisky that mimicked the Islay character. This is one of the reasons that some smoky blends from the 1970s and 1980s, taste very different now than they did back then.
The water source for Clynelish is the Clynemilton burn, which is also rich in gold deposits. Currently, they judge the value of the water higher for Whisky production, than for the small flakes of gold sometimes visible in the stream.
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Clynelish is in one of our favorite Whisky regions -- along the east coast in the northern Highlands. There is something extra-special about this region and the water. It has filtered for decades through the limestone hills from the Cromarty Firth, north of the town of Brora.
The Clynelish Distillery of today was constructed in 1968, but its story goes back a lot further. You see, the current Clynelish was built to replace another, older Clynelish across the road. The older distillery was renamed Brora, and the new one got the estabished Clynelish name.
The two sisters ran in tandem off-and-on for several years, until Brora (old Clynelish) was officially mothballed in 1983. The Brora spirits produced in 1983 were still being aged, bottled, and used in blends into the 1990s.
There is still a lot of confusion about which Whisky is Clynelish, and which is not. Any bottle you see dated after the year 2000 is most likely "new" Clynelish. "New" Clynelish is a work-horse distillery. It was built with production volume in mind, and that is what they achieved.
Current capacity is at 3.4 million liters. The biggest portion of that ample volume is used in the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve blended dram. They do issue a good amount of single malt in two core versions -- 14YO and a 15YO Distillers Edition, both at a proper 46% ABV.
CountryUnited Kingdom, Scotland
No. of stills3 wash, 3 spirit
AddressClynelish Distillery, Clynelish Rd, Brora, Highlands and Islands KW9 6LR, United Kingdom