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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Clynelish 12 year old 1997 James Macarthur, cask 11828

When arranging this week's Clynelish lineup, I found a sample of this whisky:

I bought the bottle at the recommendation of the very wise Todd, just before I left California. After moving to Ohio, I promptly drank it all. Had I not left a sample in my now-defunct archive the whisky would never have been reviewed! And as we all know, a whisky not publicly opined upon does not actually exist.

So here's the first of this week's three Clynelish. It's a 1997 from an independent bottler I never see or hear from anymore. Anyone know if James Macarthur is still in business?

Distillery: Clynelish
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Independent Bottler: James MacArthur & Co.
Series: Fine Malt Selection
Age: 12 years (1997-2010)
Maturation: bourbon cask, possibly re-fill
Cask number: 11828
Alcohol by Volume: 45%
Chillfiltered: No
Colored: No

Two bold elements play together well in the nose. There's an earthy-aquatic side: ground mustard seed, brine, dried leaves and seaweed in extra virgin olive oil. Then there's barley with apple and cucumber skins. Good stuff. The palate also keeps a duality in balance. Soil, salt, herbs and grass. Fresh peaches and apricots and a few flower blossoms. I guess it's all earthbound. Grass, earth, salt and pepper in the finish, with some apples lending color.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or ⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is all barley, lemon zest and ground mustard. The palate: barley, burlap, apples, salt and ginger candy. The finish has surprising length and warmth. Baking spices, canned pears and a little bit of sugar.

First, the airing of grievances.

The official tasting notes:
No, there's no vanilla or bourbon on the palate. And that's a good thing. Had I gone by the bottle's notes, I wouldn't have bought it. What Clyne fan wants vanilla and bourbon in his 'lish?

It's the distillate that sings here. And it is right and good. (Actually, a whisky buddy thought this was a refill sherry cask.) There's been enough maturation time to calm the whisky a bit, and let the potentially dueling sides merge.

No wonder this bottle went fast. I wish I had another. Todd probably told me to buy two.

Availability - I don't know
Pricing - was $50-$60 earlier in the decade, likely 50% more expensive now
Rating - 88

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