Clynelish 1997 (The Old Malt Cask)

”Mr. Pleasant”

Whisky Review # 928
Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Clynelish - Distilled April 1997
Bottled By/For: Hunter Laing - The Old Malt Cask Series in February 2015
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Scotch Whisky - Cask # HL 11236 - 280 Bottles
Age: 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50% (On or Around Cask Strength)
Maturation: Refill Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Average: US$ 165 (September 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Acceptable by today's standards.
Buying Advice: 👍 A well-made consistent Highland Malt.

Colour: Pale Straw/Light Gold (Natural Color)


Grassy, Waxy and Citrusy. A mix of Sweet and Sour, Fruity and Floral notes. Oak and Alcohol are there but not in an invasive way. A nice Salty touch. Certainly not mind-blowing but quite pleasant.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Malted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Wax, Mandarine, Lemon, Apple, Pear, Pineapple, Fresh Herbs, Oak, Pepper, Salt and Sugared Almonds.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Orange, Banana Ice Cream, Floral Soap, Wet Stones, Cinnamon, Marzipan and distant hints of Varnish and Tobacco.


A pleasing mix of Sweet, Sour and Salty notes. Only a light Bitterness from the Oak. The Alcohol is slightly more noticeable now but it remains quite laid-back despite the high ABV. As on the Nose this Clynelish won't break the front pages but it's a well-made Highland Malt that maintains its distillery character and is not dominated by the wood.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Toffee, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Apples and Pears, Pineapple, Milk Chocolate, Sugared Almonds, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint, Cloves and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Butterscotch, Pastry, Heather-Honey, Banana Ice Cream, Orange, Wax, Floral Perfume, Wet Stones, Wet Leaves, Nutmeg and Tobacco.


Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour & Herbal notes for balance. Medium-Dry in the end. The Alcohol and cask are a bit more noticeable but it all stays within reason. I would say this Clynelish was bottled at the right moment. I find Sweet Malted Barley, Salted Toffee, Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Lemons & Mandarins, Apples and Pears, Pineapple, Banana Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate, Wax, Fresh Herbs like Coriander, Sugared Almonds, Wet Stones, Pepper, Clove, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint, Iron, Grass, Straw and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and although that didn't make a lot of difference on the Nose, it really benefited Palate and Finish. The Flavors develop and are enhanced and the Palate becomes quite Creamy. I liked it both ways but I would suggest to add a few drops to this Clynelish.

Rating: 86

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good


The distillery was founded in 1819 by the 1st Duke of Sunderland in the small town of Brora. It is owned by Diageo and the spirit is an important ingredient of various JW Blends. It produces around 4,8 million litres of Alcohol per year. Its sister-distillery Brora lies next to Clynelish and has been reopened this year after having been closed in 1983. A new Clynelish Visitor Centre is probably ready by now as well. The pictures were shot during our visit to Clynelish/Brora in May 2019.

I really enjoyed this Clynelish from Nose to Finish. It's not a work of art but a very consistent and well-made Highland Malt from Nose to Finish. A very pleasant mix of Sweet, Sour and Salty notes with plenty of Citrus and Orchard Fruit, Fresh Herbs, Floral Perfume and Spices. The Alcohol is there but I would not give it 50% at a Blind Tasting. Well done Clynelish and Hunter Laing. A good marriage between cask and spirit.


Jan van den Ende                                                                    September 1, 2021

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