Wednesday, January 26, 2011

there can be only one

A quick addition to the Christmas whisky post: I did also buy a bottle for myself, just as a reward to me, for being me, since it was one you don't see in supermarkets very often and Waitrose had it at a reduced price of £26. It's a 14-year-old Clynelish (this is their standard bottling, a bit like the Oban, unusually as most distilleries offer a 10- or 12-year-old as the entry-level one), and since aside from a sneaky nip while cooking I didn't have a dram last night this seems like a good opportunity to make amends.

The Clynelish distillery has had a chequered history, including being physically relocated in 1967 (only by a couple of miles, though). Confusingly, the original distillery was then re-opened between 1975 and 1982 as Brora, bottlings of which are now much-sought-after and therefore fetch rather silly prices. Geographically it's firmly in the Highland region, indeed according to this map only Old Pulteney of the mainland distilleries is further north.

So, as it proudly says on the bottle, it's a coastal Highlander. As far as my whisky tastes go this bodes well, as the Oban, Ben Nevis, Dalmore and Old Pulteney all fall into this category and are all thoroughly great. Pour a glass and get your face into it and it's very much as you would expect, some smoke, but not the Laphroaig sort, a bit gentler than that. Have a taste and it's all fruit and fudge and honey with the smoke sneaking up to give you a sneaky Chinese burn and a wedgie at the end. If you want to try and locate it on the flavour chart it's slightly lighter than the Ben Nevis (which is very sherry-heavy), and less smoky than the Highland Park, but thicker and smokier than the Old Pulteney.

So I find my prejudices confirmed, i.e. that the Highlanders, and the coastal Highlanders in particular, are absolutely my favourite thing whisky-wise. As far as this particular one is concerned I think this might be second only to the Highland Park on my Chart Of Whisky Preference, which I will formalise here at some stage (but not right now).


Richard T said...

Have you tried Scapa which I think is now available on its own label? It's obviously an Orkney whisky which to my palate has rather more heather and smoked peat than Park. In carefully controlled and scientific tests with friends here (OK Orkney) Scapa comes out better - the tests are a dram of each and a half pint of scapa light (no relation to the whisky) or tennants with sips taken in strict rotation; repeated as necessary.

electrichalibut said...

No I haven't tried it, and I'd very much like to, given my love of HP. Trouble is, it's not something you ever see in supermarkets, and even the fairly basic bottlings appear to be really expensive - so, short of moving to Orkney, which, no disrespect to Orcadians, I'm not doing, it may have to wait for a while.

Richard T said...

Up here the basic 40% sells for aboutthe same as Park and at one stage Waitrose carried an Orkney malt which I think was Scapa but other than asking for it at a decent wine merchant I'm not sure whether it's available at the same price as here. The only other possible source is Scott and Miller here in Kirkwall who carry a stupendous range of whisky including some very exotic and expensive cask strength Orkney malts as well as the 'normal' Scapa but I'm not sure whether they ship south to merchants.

Obviously the best of luck with the search. If you can find it, I'm sure you'll be impressed.