26 Year Old Ex-Bourbon Clynelish
The final Clynelish dram of this series and it’s certainly a special one. 26 years matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel. Very different cask to the last review and nearly double the age of the standard OB. This Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottle is so named “Fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers”.
Over the last week I set aside a night where I felt I would be in the best headspace to review this sample. I sat back with it, let it rest, and gave it a nose or two. After that first sip it really gave me pause. The first ounce surprised me so I had to wait for another night to finish my thoughts on this whisky.
Sampled over two separate nights. Rested uncapped for ~10 minutes the first evening and upwards of half an hour the second. Dilution added in small increments over the course of each tasting. Lovely golden copper color with ridiculously thick legs. Did the shake test just because I was curious which revealed lots of small and medium sized bubbles that took forever to dissipate. I should have started a stopwatch!
With the Sherry Octave cask I noted it smelled unlike any other Clynelish I’ve had before. The same can be said again with this bottle. It is wildly fruity with some standard apple, pear, apricot aromas but also this unmistakable tropical fruit note. Dehydrated mango, and papaya. Maybe a bit of toasted coconut or perhaps simple coconut water. It is certainly still Clynelish with familiar cereal, yeasty notes, like heads of green wheat kernels full with pollen. Obvious floral notes of honeysuckle, cherry blossoms and marigolds. Fragrant but also delicate baking spices – Nutmeg, ginger, pink peppercorns and I swear a touch of anise. Heavenly nose.
Another sweet to bitter flavor palate that I enjoy. Honey syrup and floral nectar that quickly changes to a burnt sugar, grassy dram. It’s like a bitter ale or IPA. Kind of hoppy in a grass or hay sense. Cinnamon and peppercorns. Charred corn, and rice cereal pieces. Toasted almonds and hazelnuts. Marzipan. You get brief glimpses of dark maple sap sweetness through your nose as you sip. Viscous mouthfeel.
The finish brings the gritty side to the bitterness. Raw cocoa powder, tobacco and leather. Barrel char character is very evident after 26 years. Oak and charcoal mix with burnt sugars and honey. Vanilla bean custard or Tiramisu. The finish is on the short side but your cheeks are coated with the flavor.
It’s good. It’s really good the more you let it just sit there. It really, truly gets better with lots of air. I am so glad I just let it sit for an extended period of time and added a few drops of water along the way. It did enhance my experience. I think overall the nose just wins me over and those that enjoy a bit more cask influence in your whisky will absolutely fall in love with this. It’s the 14 year bottle dialed in and enhanced.
The bad though? The price and proof. The proof makes this easy to drink. That’s dangerous because the price though cannot go unmentioned.
Would I buy a bottle? No. Great whisky, poor price. It’s rather unfortunate because I would certainly rate this an 8-9/10. Try a glass or two but save your money for another bottle.