Clynelish is located in the town of Brora on the north east Highland coast. It is owned by multi national drinks company Diageo and is their 4th largest operating distillery, producing 3.5 million litres per year. The distillery is quite new and only opened in 1967. However, there has been a distillery in Brora since 1817 and this was also called Clynelish. The current distillery was built next to the old one and they were run simultaneously under the same name until the old one was closed in 1983. Now, any whisky produced at the new distillery is called Clynelish and anything that is still available from the old distillery goes under the name of Brora. The whisky produced at both distilleries has long been well renowned amongst connoisseurs but they are generally unknown to the general consumer. The two main releases are this 14 years old and a limited 'Distiller's Edition' that is part matured in Oloroso sherry casks. Clynelish is readily available through independent bottlers and these offer a great opportunity to buy quality limited release whiskies for a decent price.
Clynelish is slightly unusual for a Highland whisky as it has some smokiness. However, this is in the background complimenting the other elements and is nowhere near the levels of most Islay malts. The nose is fragrant and has a sweetness that reminded me of honey and heather. There is also a whiff of smoke (think of a bonfire) and sea air. It is incredibly smooth on the palate and is great in your mouth, feeling creamy and velvety. The honey and heather from the nose being joined by some vanilla, a salty tang and some sweet tropical fruit (it reminded me of mango and coconut). The smokiness is there, as is an interesting spicy note (mustard, I think). The finish is long and enjoyable with the sweet elements marrying perfectly with the smoke and saltiness in the background. This is a very interesting and easy drinking whisky that would be ideal to introduce people to a smoky whisky, as the smokiness is not overpowering and mixes excellently with the other characteristics. It retails for around £30 per bottle, mostly from independent retailers.