I’m long overdue on this next series, looking at some of the basic expressions out there on the market. Coming off a series of independent Clynelish bottlings, it’s fitting to start the ‘back to basics’ series with the Clynelish official bottling.
In 1991, United Distillers (later the heart of Diageo) released a series of entry level malts of distilleries not sporting an official bottling, which came to be known as the Flora and Fauna series due to the pictures of plants and animals on the label. Among the 22 distilleries bottled in that first series, was also a 14 year old Clynelish bottling, bearing the Clynelish/Brora Scottish wildcat. In 1997, a vintage 1982 Flora and Fauna cask strength limited edition was released at 57.7% ABV.
Besides the Flora and Fauna bottlings, seven expressions were bottled under the Rare Malts Selection label between 1995 and 1998, all between 22 and 24 years of age.
The Flora and Fauna bottling proved so popular, that in 2004 Diageo released an official 14 year old bottling, and later added a Distiller’s Edition, finished in Oloroso Seco casks. Additionally, in 2009 Diageo released a one-off Friends of the Classic Malts 12 year old edition, fully matured in sherry casks.
Clynelish 14 (46% ABV)
Appearance: Gold, rather quick legs but a ring remains sending a leg down the glass every so often.
Nose: Waxy lemon, like car wax, honey, clove, baked bread. The waxiness strengthens with time in the glass and some dusty spice appear with notes of honeysuckle.
Palate: Citrus and light spices with pepper, allspice and a light sourness in a full bodied liquid.
Linger: Honey sweetness on the tongue, waxy dryness in the mouth and spice tingles in the throat in a medium and pleasant linger.
To me this is a staple malt in any whisky drinking collection and a basic every day dram. It won’t blow you off your chair, but it will also never disappoint you.