...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Autumn Whiskies: Clynelish Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Ah, the spoils of my contest victory:

All commentary aside, I would like to thank Master of Malt for my prize!  I really do appreciate it.  Now, onto the commentary.

In the three years that passed between receiving this bottle and opening it, I reviewed three whiskies from That Boutique-y Whisky Company (TBWC).  And none of those three whiskies were good.  The first batch of Allt-à-Bhainne was oh so ugly.  The second Aultmore batch was a mess.  And the first batch of Loch Lomond grain whisky was basically gin.  The catch here is that all three reviews were courtesy of 3cL samples purchased from Master of Malt.  And I've found a lot of weird issues with MoM's samples of their own whiskies.  So this would be the first time I'd be reviewing a TBWC whisky directly from the bottle.

I also came to this review irritated with TBWC's entire approach towards their whiskies.  As I wrote in a previous review:
No age statement. Check.
No indication of maturation or casks used. Check.
500mL bottle. Check.
Priced higher than whiskies bottled by more established companies who offer their products with age statements and maturation information and 700mL bottles. Check.
Oh, but the ultra-relevant cheeky labels! Check.

In this instance the label featured a dialogue starring the I Can Has Cheezburger cat and referencing Batch 1's label.  Indeed.  But MoM did send this to me for free and it is Clynelish, so I put aside my preconceptions and gave it a chance.

Distillery: Clynelish
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company
Type: Single Malt
Maturation: yes
Age: damfino
Bottled: 2013
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Alcohol by Volume: 50.6%
Limited Release: 319 bottles

The nose begins with big oaky notes of caramel and butter.  But then there's the pine sap note I also found in the other TBWCs.  Alongside that are alternating notes of citronella candles and orange peel.  After 20 minutes notes of Valentine's Day heart candies and grapefruit-scented hand lotion appear.  After 30 minutes, here comes some maple syrup.

A solid combo of cocoa, caramel, and citrus leads the palate.  Then vanilla bean and pine sap.  Grapefruit lotion curls around a slight tannic bitterness.  This is much sweeter than the van Wees 23yo.

Big orange and lime notes make up most of the finish.  Some pepper in the back of the throat, then the tannic bitterness.  Very warming and very sweet.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The maple syrup remains in the nose, joined by simple syrup and vanilla.  Perfumed and mossy.  Sawdust, limes, and a broadening herbal note.

The bitterness gets a little cleaner in the palate.  There's vanilla, sugar, caramel, a light floral note, and some citric tartness.

The simple finish is tart, sweet, and bitter.

These notes were taken from the middle of the bottle.  The first third of the bottle was rough going, very sharp, bitter, and loaded with the pine notes.  Gradually the oak kicked in and the rest of the whisky opened up.

Like the other three TBWCs I've tried, this is likely a young whisky (<10yrs) though aged in a very active (new oak?) cask or casks.  The nose is better when neat, but the palate brightens up with the added water.

While I wouldn't call this a great whisky, it works.  It's the best of the four TBWCs I've tried and competes quite well with the much older Clynelish I reviewed on Thursday, though it loses in the complexity department.  But, sadly, this 500mL bottle of young whisky (long since sold out) was priced higher than the 700mL bottle of old whisky (which took longer to sell through).  Such is the state of this strange marketplace.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - it was around £60
Rating - 82