...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Clynelish 18 year old 1997 Hepburn's Choice for K&L

I'm rolling out the 1997 Clynelish for Xmas. I don't think I've reviewed this undeservedly(?) famous(?) vintage(?) since July 2013.

For those of you who are wondering what I'm talking about, a subset of whisky enthusiasts believe that 1997 Clynelishes are consistently fabulous. Another subset think that's a bunch of rubbish. If one is going by facts (and why would one want to do that?), there's an unusually large quantity of single cask Clynelish that had been distilled in 1997 (300+ 1997 releases versus 70+ 1998 releases and 30+ 1999 releases, for instance). In fact, there are more 1997 Clynelish on the market than any other "vintage" from that distillery. So there's a lot of it, whether or not it's always great.

I've found some 1997 Clynelish to be very good and others that aren't. Profound, innit?

Distillery: Clynelish
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Northern Highlands
Independent Bottler: Hunter Laing
Label: Hepburn's Choice
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Age: 18 years (1997-2015)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Bottles: 254
Alcohol by Volume: 55.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(Thanks to Brett for the sample!)

The nose has a nice array of characteristics. Citronella, orange peel, melted candles, honeydew, whole wheat bread and honey. It has a darker side with chalk dust and industrial grease. The palate is hot and very very tangy. Stones and peppercorns. Pears and honey. A slight vanilla creaminess. It finishes salty, tangy and sweet.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is cleaner and fruitier. Lemons, orange and maybe something tropical. The palate remains almost palate-strippingly tangy. Salt, pepper, flowers and simple sweet barley note. The finish has been clipped short. Tangy and peppery.

I sampled this whisky along with yesterday's 18yo SMWS Caol Ila, and this Clynelish got trounced. It's a noser, not a drinker. The nose is great, with or without dilution, being both friendly and complex. I wouldn't say the palate is DOA, it's just flat and bland aside from the violent tangy note. It doesn't require more dilution because there was almost no finish left at 46%abv.

Another instance of a B range nose and a C range palate. I'm unimpressed with the Clynelish this month. Gonna have to haul out the big guns on Thursday and Friday, but tomorrow will bring a 20yo Caol Ila.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $99.99
Rating - 81