Whisky Reviews: Four Clynelish

Elliott
4 min readJun 20, 2021

Today I’ve got four Clynelish expressions to take a peek at, some of them quite unusual, some of them widely distributed, like the Game of Thrones release!

Game of Thrones Clynelish vs The Unknown Secret Highland

Clynelish Reserve — House Tyrell / 51.2%

Tasted neat

The Game of Thrones tie-in whiskies have been broadly panned in the press, but as a Clynelish fan, let’s give this Clynelish Reserve — House Tyrell a try. The only thing we know about it is that’s it bottled at a cask-strength-like 51.2% ABV; the rest is NAS and not labelled. It may be chill-filtered, coloured artificially, and diluted to 51.2%.

  • Color: burnished (1.1)
  • Nose: candlewax, sliced apple, unripe pear, honey, lemon spritz
  • Taste: funky waxy classic Clynelish profile, some vanilla, jasmine, and winter spices
  • Finish: medium, bright; lemon meringue pie

Two things spring to mind:

  • This is probably caramel coloured
  • Beware: it takes water extremely poorly

This turned out to be better than I expected, but it’s noticeably younger, hotter, and more expensive than the 14 year regular bottling. Still, if you like Clynelish, you probably won’t hate this one.

Rating: 81/100

The Unknown Experience Secret Highland 20 Year Old / 53.5% / 27,500円 (JPY)

Tasted neat

There isn’t much to find online about this bottle, except a review and product listings, but this is a selection by Mr. Tensho Okamura from Shimokitazawa Cafe & Bar TEN, where they have put together a year 2000 Clynelish 20 year old. The label art is cribbed from the Voynich Manuscript, and this is the second release from their label, which sold out almost instantly in Japan.

This was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2020 from a Bourbon Hogshead, yielding 345 bottles at cask strength 53.5%. Mine is bottle #322.

  • Color: deep gold (0.8)
  • Nose: sulphur, burnt plastic, electrical fire, terps; damp, dank earthiness
  • Taste: meaty, waxy, charcoal grilled banana skins, tropical fruit salad, vanilla
  • Finish: long and slightly unpleasant; sickly sweet toxins

This is an interest cask, with some fantastic notes that save it from hitting the 40s, but it’s also an absolutely busted cask with the worst off-notes I’ve tasted in years.

Rating: 57/100

North Star Lynch Isle vs Elixir Marriage of Casks

Clynelish 2000 North Star “Lynch Isle” 20 Year Old / 53.3%

Tasted neat

This unusual Clynelish was distilled in August 2000 and laid to rest in a Sherry Butt before finally being reracked into a Portuguese brandy butt for an unspecified amount of time and bottled October 2020. The yield is an extremely massive 693 bottles.

  • Color: russet (1.3)
  • Nose: brandy over wax, salt spray, pineapple, and black pepper
  • Taste: big bright waxy clynelish, candied oranges, gunpowder, red chillies, icing sugar, some subtle sherry
  • Finish: long, spicy, dragonfruit

This is worth it just for the unusual combination, which I’ve never seen before, of ex-sherry matured Clynelish finished in a brandy cask. It definitely gives it a not insignificant rum-spice punch and extra sweetness. A real dessert dram!

Rating: 87/100

Clynelish “Marriage of Casks” 22 Year Old / 55.4% / 38,000円 (JPY)

Tasted neat, with a drop of water

This 22 year old Clynelish was created by marrying a single sherry butt with a single hogshead; there is nothing else known about the bottle from the label! Normally we want a bit of a store with a bottle, but Elixir is giving us nothing here but the bare-bones paucity of “hey: Clynelish”, and that whisper is enough to get the aficionados immediately salivating.

  • Color: russet (1.3)
  • Nose: leather, sherry, grape jelly, musky stone fruits; baked pie crust
  • Taste: pipe smoke, candle wax, crisp pear; mead, truffle fries, and almond syrup
  • Finish: long, minerally, fresh baked bread and honey

This is a fantastic, soft, fruity Clynelish, and the marriage of casks works well to sweeten up the bourbon hogshead, which would taste a lot like GoT Clynelish, but with more of the richness of age.

Rating: 90/100

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Elliott

Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade