A Truly Singular Whisky Opportunity — Clynelish 23 Year Old – Scotch Whisky News

 

A Legendary Single Malt at a Jaw-Dropping Price
Clynelish 23 Year Old “Signatory Vintage Black Label” K&L Exclusive Single 2nd Fill Sherry Butt #11239 Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky 

It’s a simple fact that Signatory is responsible for some of the finest Scotches on the market today. Simply put, their access to the world’s finest casks is beyond compare. Such access comes at a price, however, as their finds command a premium. That being said, every once in a blue moon, we find an outstanding value hidden in their impressive portfolio. Such is the case with the breathtaking Clynelish 23 Year Old “Signatory Vintage Black Label.” A profound expression by any measure, it is among the most compelling single malts we’ve encountered this year. Wrapped in a stately black label, it is dressed in a manner befitting its high standing. We’ve sold younger versions of Clynelish for considerably more, so while $250 may seem pricey to some, it is, in fact, an amazing value of the highest order. As the notes below will attest, this a profound expression that will leave those who enjoy sherried casks clamoring for more. Rich, complex, and heady, it operates on a multitude of levels, drawing one back again and again. While we secured as much as we could, there’s simply never enough of a spirit of this caliber to go around. You really don’t want to miss out on this, the most thrilling Scotch find of 2019.

Clynelish 23 Year Old “Signatory Vintage Black Label” K&L Exclusive Single 2nd Fill Sherry Butt #11239 Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($249.99)

Over the years, Signatory has bottled some of K&L’s most profound casks. We’ve been afforded unprecedented access to some of Scotland’s rarest malts by our friends in Pitlochry. Often, we fall in love with a cask and are willing to pay a premium to work with Signatory Vintage because their offerings are so superlative. That means they might not be able to offer the same outrageous “value” on paper that our other direct bottlings do, but the premium is always worth it. Under rare circumstances, that paradigm is flipped upside down, they’ll offer an unbelievably special malt at below market prices. (Thinking Ladyburn 36?) This Clynelish fits perfectly into that category. Of course, it’s not inexpensive, but considering the rarity and quality of the spirit and what we’ve happily paid for younger Clynelish NOT aged in sherry, this is truly one of the best deals we’ve ever offered. We loved this cask so much we thought it deserved a special label. But it was not by chance that we located this wonderful whisky in the Signatory warehouse. We initially tasted a 20-year-old version at the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie bottled in 2016 by the venerated Japanese Whisky Society “Whisky Hoop.” After falling in love, we ferreted out one of the final casks from this batch at Signatory. As an homage to the venerable society in Japan, we’ve used the same iconic black label we saw that night. The striking package fits this delectable whisky perfectly. A true legend in our midst

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 21, 2019

There’s little dispute that Clynelish is one of Scotland’s best distillers. There’s something ethereal and otherworldly about this spirit, even in its most pedestrian offerings. But unless you’re a real hunter, searching for the great independently bottled casks that dot the shelves of world’s finest bars and retail shops, you’ve likely had limited experience with this amazing malt. We’ve only been offered Clynelish a few times in our history and we’ve never passed up an opportunity to bottle it. It’s hard to remember a cask coming anywhere close to the superlative quality of this second-fill sherry butt. Even the magical 21 year old Sovereign wax top, which perhaps highlights the quality of the spirit more obviously, doesn’t achieve the incredible intensity and depth of this unprecedented butt. Clynelish is a powerful malt. It can sometimes feel overwhelming or too loud, especially when paired with something as overt as a sherry butt. But when we found this barrel, one of the last available in the Signatory warehouses, we were prepared to pay whatever it took to get these bottles here. What’s most incredible about this special whisky is that the distinct distillery character still shines through behind the obvious sherry influence. The butt in question was objectively one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen. Deep dark mahogany, very thick and obviously very, very old. And the whisky is significantly darker in bottle than I’d expected it to be. One tiny whiff and you’re transported directly to the banks of the North Sea, the cold, salty air whipping across your exposed face. Deep and profound like the ocean itself, this whisky exists as a relic of a previous era.

Immediately, we’ve entered the dark, damp warehouse with notes of moss; the finest fresh tobacco leaves; old leather; beeswax; wild honey; whiffs of almond butter; sweet, crunchy caramel tuiles; cinnamon poached pear; roasted herbs; and black tea. On the palate it is rich, almost chewy, in texture. Bold, savory saltiness comes through as well as the ripest orchard fruit. More leather, machined metal, pure dark chocolate, exotic mahogany, and big spices. Something like stepping into a 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom and eating the machine piece by piece from the inside out. With a bit of water, the big, rich stone fruit comes out in front of the savory notes. Still on the palate the saltiness is absolutely unquestionable. Bold spice, rich in weight, and completely overwhelming textually. Only the tiniest bit of water, if any, is really needed. This one loves air. This is the total package here. I don’t expect to see many more whiskies of this caliber in our future. Without a doubt, the single malt of the year for me.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 21, 2019

This is the one people will ask about for years to come. It’s bound to enter the rarefied air of “legendary cask.” Frankly, it’s one of the greatest whiskies we’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, let alone choosing to buy. Twenty-three long years in a sherry butt of superlative quality has proved to be exactly the thing Clynelish needs to draw every one of its facets out into the open. The nose is balanced between orange zest, roasted and candied nuts, succulent orchard fruit, a bit of pipe tobacco, a dusting of crushed stone, spice, and everything nice. The palate is dark and chewy, almost brooding. It matches the maple syrup color and sweet profile. There is a savory thread from the tip of the tongue all the way to the back of your throat that adds complexity and a counterpoint to all of the sweet cask and malt notes. The finish is expansive. Every nerve on your palate is alive and buzzing after you finish a sip. It’s simply a perfect whisky. Fortunately, sherry butts are huge and this one provided 516 bottles of liquid gold. Sadly, it won’t be nearly enough. Once you’ve tasted this number and looked at its sexy vintage black label, you will simply need to fill the safe with as many bottles as you can stuff in there, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime dram.

Will Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 20, 2019

Without question, this is nectar from the gods. For those who do not know, Clynelish is famous among aficionados for a unique waxy character in its distillate. Combined with the sherry in this barrel, it forms a rich, buttery structure on which layers and layers of intense flavor build up and coalesce into a magical elixir. The wood and spice tones remind me in some ways of old, vintage Madeira. Instead of the syrupy sweetness, though, you get juicy golden apple, honeyed biscuits and a heavenly, ethereal malt profile. With just a hint of iodine and that trademark paraffin, it achieves an impossible balance between sweet and savory – power and grace. The flavor seems to last for days, and I want to savor every second of it.

Cameron Hoppas | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 19, 2019

This scotch has gravity. In nosing my glass aromas of burnt sugar, butterscotch and sweet warm cereals. In sipping, the spirit has mouth filling round texture. It’s incredibly smooth, if not a bit powerful and weighty at full strength. With a little drop of water the aromas open up beautifully welcoming you back into the glass. It’s with this little drop of water that the complexity of the spirit comes through. It feels less heavy and reveals the true density and complexity of the spirit itself, even at a lower proof, you taste it more. This is a serious bottle of whiskey.

Tim Telli | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 19, 2019

With the very finest wines and whiskies I find I can almost get as much pleasure from smelling them as opposed to drinking them. This is one of those times. The nose on this old whisky is incredible. It draws you in with hints of toffee and molasses. Despite being bottled at 56% ABV I prefer it neat since there is enough sherry cask richness and complexity to it. An awesome bottle of whisky, plus I love the old school label on it.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 19, 2019

There is SOOOO much going on in this Scotch. Looking at the deep mahogany color, I was worried that the sherry barrel would have too much of an effect on the spirit. Luckily, this was a refill sherry butt and my fears were unfounded, because this is a damn beautiful whisky. Dark honey and nougat aromas start the lips smacking in anticipation. Then more austere and savory aromas emerge and meld with the sweeter components. Earl Grey tea, cedar shavings, espresso, and some umami meatiness. There’s nuttiness that combines roasted almonds and pecan pralines. There is also some of the signature spiciness that Clynelish often has with dusty black pepper, cayenne, clove, and some menthol too. This is easily one of the best drams I’ve had all year.

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