One of the really fun things about regularly exchanging whisky samples with friends, is the ability to get to some bottlings deep in their collections, those that are no longer available on the market, one-off single casks. In case you snoozed while that very limited supply was sold, it’s gone.
A curious Clynelish bottled in 2001 came in the last exchange with my friend Torben. This is a 12 year old Clynelish matured in a South African sherry butt. Not having heard of whisky in South African sherry butts (or of South African sherry), I was intrigued!
It turns out that South Africa has a serious fortified wine industry (which would make sense, as they have a serious wine industry), and Signatory sourced several casks of which I now know of four bottlings (at 43%, 56%, 58.7% and 59.9% – the one I have here to review), and there have also been bottlings of Mannochmore by signatory in similar casks.
This one is really interesting. This isn’t Oloroso or PX style sherry, rather more of a Fino style cask with the full body of the spirit not only waxy, but oily. There’s also American oak there at work…
Signatory Clynelish 1989, Distilled 17.5.1989, Matured in a South African Sherry Butt #3240 and Bottled on 24.11.2001, Yield 672 Bottles (58.9% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, very slow rolling small droplets.
Nose: Dusty and balsamic, Fino sherry like. Waxy and oily, heavy spirit on the nose, very coastal without being salty. A layer of honey and dried fruit reveals itself in a combination not in the “regular” profile of a sherry butt. Water brings out more of the sour-ish sherry and makes the honey a lot more pronounced.
Palate: Citrus and sultanas soaked in water, sharp cinnamon (like the concentrate you find in fireball) and pepper with honey. Water reveals a lot of the pepper making it extremely spicy.
Linger: Spices in the back of the throat, some citrus tangyness on the tongue in a medium finish.
This is an interesting dram, and I’d be really happy to try it after a glass of that South African sherry. The oily note is interesting as it usually gets lost in sherry casks. All in all, this is a fun dram. I wonder what it would be like with another 6 years on it….
Thanks Torben, for having such interesting stuff and for sharing!