Clynelish was constructed in  1819 and produced heavily peated whisky which mainly found its way into blends. (mainly due to a drought in Islay which brought about a rare shortage of peated whisky). A second distillery was built alongside the first in 1968  (as an exact replica of Caol Ila distillery on Islay - this resulted in the new facility being named Clynelish and the original being renamed to 'Brora'.  Production at Brora ended in 1983 and the distillery was mothballed. Clynelish continues to produce whisky, though it's main expression is a single bottling of 14 year old single malt. Diageo releases occassional limited Clynelish bottlings through it's annual special release programme. Clynelish is characterised as being a waxy and coastal in style, and is still used heavily for blending, including within Johnnie Walker Gold Label.

Distillery Bottlings

Posted 15 April 2019

A welcome bottling from Clynelish, which to my mind is a whisky drinkers whisky. There’s not all that many official (affordable) OB’s released from this distillery – the 14 year old remains the only consistent bottle produced by the distillery. This GoT edition is a new composition rather than a rebottling and comes delivered with the highest ABV of the series – it’s also the same price as the uneventful Cardhu. Showing as out of stock in many of the bigger outlets, but have no fear, a second (massive) release of bottles is on its way. If you want one, just have an ounce of patience.

Posted 19 April 2018

What exactly makes a classic whisky classic? Longevity? Consistency? Wide consumer appeal? Competitive pricing? It would be hard to create a definitive list of the classics – styles vary greatly, as do personal tastes. But, perhaps there are some talismans that most malt enthusiasts would agree are archetypal or even timeless?  Lagavulin 16 year old and Laphroaig 10 year old both spring immediately to my mind – well regarded bottlings that you’ll see just as commonly on the shelves of a local pub as you would in a specialist whisky bar. But, just taking expressions which have broad cross-over appeal would be a very narrow view of what might be a classic whisky.

Independent Bottlings


Posted 15 August 2017

1970's Clynelish is always of interest. During this period, neighbour Brora changed production styles from heavily peated to lightly peated, and, if you believe the rumours, a few casks got mislabelled in the process. If you’re ever drinking an early 1970’s Clynelish which tastes particularly peaty, well, you never know….


Posted 20 July 2022

Up to Brora for a 10 year old Clynelish that spent its days maturing in an ex-bourbon barrel. 210 bottles were produced and you’ll still find a few at The Whisky Shop Dufftown for £85.95.


Posted 11 August 2021

Decadent Drinks presumably twice-yearly edition stops off at Clynelish for a 10 year old vatting of three 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels. The resulting quagmire of “Candlekitty” (a name which seems to now be catching on wider than just Sponge bottlings) has been bottled at 48.5% ABV and with an outturn of 762 bottles.

Posted 24 August 2020

11 year old Sponge Clynelish matured in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. 250 bottles were produced at an ABV of 53%.

Posted 20 August 2020

A new indy distillery moniker that’s far from challenging to crack, but catchy enough that it feels like this won’t be the last time we’ll be seeing it adorn a label. 19 year old Clynelish that’s been matured since 2000 in a handful of refill hogsheads. 762 bottles produced at 48.5% ABV.

Posted 21 January 2022

What do you get if you take all three bottles from Whisky Sponge’s Decent of Sponge series of Clynelish’s and slosh them all around together? This 3rd Secret Edition - which looks at bringing together the trio in a final, smaller (131 bottle), reduced (53% ABV) vatting. Fruit. Wax. Time. Says the label. Let’s see…

Posted 21 January 2022

The first of an amusing triptych entitled ‘The Decent of Sponge’ which cues off of the March of Evolution by Rudolph Zallinger – only in reverse and with plenty of ludicrous, but often accurate observations on the devolvement of modern whisky drinkers from inquisitive explorers all the way to their current computer-bound, auction obsessed state.

Posted 21 January 2022

Phase 3 and the darkest of Sponge’s Decent series – there’s clearly far more activity from this refill sherry butt than the other two. 528 bottles at 56.6% is the net result.

Posted 21 January 2022

The 2nd of Sponge’s Zallinger-esque trio is likewise drawn from a refill sherry butt – only it seems to have tipped over the edge of 25 years old into the dizzying heights of being 26 years old. The Decent of Sponge – Phase 2 is made up of 532 bottles at 57.7%.

Gordon & MacPhail

Posted 04 November 2019

Selecting casks isn’t easy. Nor is it a haphazard affair. Even if your annual release is simply created from 50 plain as day refill ex-bourbon barrels – just grabbing and disgorging a random selection is unlikely to create an award-winning bottling. Casks can be similar, but they’re never identical. If you’re selecting casks for vatting, you’re looking for consistency, but similarly you’re looking to balance the particularly characteristics of the casks within a larger pool of liquid. I.E. it’s sometimes possible to add some aberrant barrels into the mix – so long as you’re mindful of the qualities that they’re bringing to the party. There’s some science here. There’s certainly a lot of trial and error. Some of it can be quite fun. But, on the flip side, you may be thinking that the task of just selecting a single cask would be a no brainer – you’d be wrong.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Posted 06 September 2018

An infrequent appearance for this fan-favourite Highlander. This young example was matured in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. Young & Spritely profile.

Posted 06 February 2020

An always popular #26 that’s been slumbering in 2nd fill ex-bourbon since September 2011.

View on SMWS

Posted 03 September 2020

Phil has been snaffling up most of the recent young Clynelish bottlings for reviewing – but I arrived at the Society rooms first this month…so…

View on SMWS

Posted 16 April 2021

Up to Sutherland for a youngbut always popular Clynelish. This one has been matured in a 2nd fill ex-bourbon barrel for 9 years and then has been bottled at 56.7%.

Posted 01 September 2022

Young Clynelish that’s been matured for 9 years in a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel – nothing more needs to be said.

View on SMWS

Posted 30 November 2017

A new SMWS Clynelish distilled on 27 Feburary 2004 and matured in a 1st fill ex-Bourbon barrel for 9 years. One of 198 bottles. Oily & Coastal profile.

Signatory Vintage

Posted 14 June 2017

Clynelish lovers have to look slightly further afield for their kicks - with only a 14 year old distillery bottling currently available, its independent bottler time to continue with that Highland waxy hit. Fortunately, Signatory Vintage are on hand, regularly turning out quality indy Clynelish across their range which includes the Un-Chillfiltered, Decanter and Cask Strength Collections.

Posted 24 June 2019

1995 was inarguably a purple patch year for Clynelish – and Signatory Vintage seem to have snaffled up the lion’s share of the casks for their Cask Strength Collection. Drawn primarily from refill sherry butts, these 95’s are well-regarded and in high demand. This example bottled for TWE’s 20th Anniversary has been matured for 23 years in refill sherry butt #11252 before being bottled at 55.4% ABV. It’s available from The Whisky Exchange for £155.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Posted 22 December 2019

Mouthfeel is an essential part of the whisky drinking experience. After nosing, but before tasting, how a liquid behaves in the mouth inherent drives our overall experience of it. Is it fatty and sticky – concentrating around the gums? – or is it wishy and thin, dissipating almost as soon as it hits the surface of the mouth? I’m genuinely surprised by how infrequently whisky writers comment on the mouthfeel, texture and weight of spirit – for me, it’s one of the fundamental underpinnings of what differentiates excellent whisky from average whisky.

Whisky Exchange

Posted 24 November 2021

Kicking off this nine-some of Whisky Exchange single casks with a 2011 Clynelish that has been fully matured in a single ex-bourbon barrel for a decade.



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