Clynelish 14

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Clynelish 14 is one of the legendary Diageo malts amongst connoisseurs.  For those who don’t know Diageo: it is a multi-billion business concern with over 30 distilleries and other spirit producing brands in its portfolio. You can easily call them the AB InBev of the spirits industry.

Clynelish distillery lies near Brora in the Highlands. The original Clynelish distillery was built in 1819 and produced a lighter style of spirit. The whisky proved to be very popular with blenders so capacity had to be upgraded.

Diageo built a brand new distillery across the street and the new Clynelish opened in May 1968. The old Clynelish distillery was closed only a month later. The new distillery used exact copies of the old stills. Due to demand Diageo reopened the old Clynelish and baptised it Brora. The distillery produced a heavily heated spirit, partly to cover a shortage of Islay whisky.

Brora was one of the victims of the 1983 Whisky Massacre and is now a much sought after malt. The few Brora’s released nowadays are part of the ultra-premium Diageo Special Releases. 

In January of 2014, Diageo revealed plans to increase the production capacity of Clynelish to 10 million litres in stead of the normal 4.8 million litres. Due to slightly disappointing results and a slowdown in certain markets like Eastern Europe, the investment has been put on hold in October 2014 until further notice. The distillery is currently closed as they are replacing the mash tun and upgrading the equipment. Production should restart in September 2016.

Clynelish is a signature malt of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, formerly known as the 18-year-old Johnnie Walker. As a single malt, there are only two official bottlings and a distillery only exclusive. They sell 100.000 bottles per year of the classic 14-year-old single malt. Last year Diageo presented a NAS single malt as part of their Special Releases with a rather staggering price tag: £550…

Identity Card

  • Clynelish 14 year old (O.B.)
  • Part of Diageo's Classic Malts representing the Highlands region
  • Clynelish Distillery, Brora (Highlands)
  • 14-year-old single malt
  • Alcohol: 46% ABV
  • Artificially coloured and chill-filtered
Clynelish 14YO
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting Notes Clynelish 14

Colour: Fake gold. The whisky leaves thin oily lines on the glass. Adding water doesn't create Scottish mist, so the whisky has been chill filtered.

Nose: Lots of wood accents on the nose. Tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. Honey-caramel and subtle wood smoke. A slightly maritime salty aroma and fragrant wood. Candle wax, flower nectar and cherry blossoms.  Cherry and grape juice.

With water, I'm getting some additional citrus and fatty cream on the nose.

Taste: Sweet honey and candle wax. Lots of cloves creating a bitter and floral taste. Full bodied with banana, nuts and edible flowers. Spicy sweet pepper.

With water, there's more fatty citrus and pepper. Camphor, clove and bitter wood notes.

Finish: Dry and bitter. Woody. Spicy fino sherry, cherries and twigs of red berries.

So? Buy it or leave it?

Most of Diageo's Classic Malts should be a staple in a whisky lover's cabinet. Many - myself included - could start a rant Diageo and its multi-billion dollar business putting profits and market share before quality and customers. But the quality of Lagavulin 16,  Clynelish 14, Caol Ila 12, Talisker 10 and other Classic Malts have always been fairly good given their price range. A must buy in my opinion.

Clynelish 14 now has a special place in my own cabinet. I had a bottle unopened in my cabinet for several months and cracked the seal when I found out Mrs. C was pregnant of our first little girl. The little one being the very reason for the silence of the blog. The new family life has been rather time-consuming but blogging rhythm should accelerate to normal speed again. Hopefully...

Price: £41.15 at The Whisky Exchange. But Clynelish 14 is widely available in liquor stores and even supermarkets with a decent whisky selection.

Image credits: Diageo (distillery picture), The Whisky Exchange (bottle picture).


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