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Clynelish 14 Year Old

Average score from 41 reviews and 149 ratings 85

Clynelish 14 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Clynelish
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%
  • Age: 14 year old

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Clynelish 14 Year Old

Clynelish is a Highland distillery owned by Diageo. The distillery doesn't release a ton of official bottlings as much of their stock goes into blends such as Johnnie Walker Gold. John Glaser of Compass Box, who previously worked for Johnnie Walker as a marketing director, uses Clynelish in most of his Compass Box blends. So Clynelish has a good reputation, but it's often as a supporting character and not as a star in its own right. When Diageo does release Clynelish 14 Year Old (or the Clynelish Distillers Edition), the distillery's die-hard fans tend to scoop it up pretty quickly. I bought this bottle back in 2018, but it took me over a year to get around to it. So, what did I find?

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): slightly muted for the first few weeks, honey, peaches, floral, marshmallow-ish vanilla, a touch of brine/sea salt
  • Palate (undiluted): medium bodied, slightly briny, a touch of waxiness, honey, peaches, oranges, oak, a touch of smoke (sometimes)
  • Finish: medium length, vanilla, oak, honey, a bit of peaches and oranges, some brine lingering

With water there's a bit more oakiness on the nose and the waxiness is more prominent on the palate. The finish is more vanilla-forward with a touch of citrus fruit at the tail end. This is really nice either way.

It's easy to see why John Glaser of Compass Box uses Clynelish as the "base" for so many of his whiskies. It's well-made, and well-balanced with no dominant element standing out. But (and you knew there would be a 'but') it may not appeal to those looking for their malt whisky to provide a big "WOW" factor. There may be a hint of smoke (or barrel char) on the nose and later part of the flavour development, but it's very faint and it's not always detectable. This isn't Laphroaig or Ardbeg. There may or may not be some sherry casks in the mix, but I doubt it, since there are none of the typical sherry notes (raisins, dates) present. With time and air exposure, the orange and peach notes become a bit more prominent. If you've got a bottle, I might suggest sipping about a third of the bottle (not all at once) and then tucking it in the back of your whisky cabinet for a few months as it seems to get better after it's been open for awhile.

  • Would I accept a glass of this if someone offered me one? Yes
  • Would I order this at a bar or pub? Absolutely
  • Would I purchase another bottle? Definitely. The Ontario price for this isn't too crazy as of this writing, and if you live anywhere else, you'll almost certainly get it for a more reasonable price than I will. It's similar (though not identical) to Oban 14, but costs about $30 less per bottle.

@OdysseusUnbound Great review. Given a choice between the Oban 14 and the Clyenlish 14, no contest. It’s the Clynelish by a mile. Admittedly a bit of an acquired taste, but once acquired a forever favourite.

@OdysseusUnbound Great review. Given a choice between the Oban 14 and the Clynlish 14, no contest. It’s the Clynlish by a mile.


Tonight was time to start my Christmas season of tasting. It's been a while since I had a Clynelish so I decide to open a bottle I bought about 3 or 4 years ago, an Hart Brothers finest collection Clynelish distilled in November 1998 and bottled in January 2013. This my first whisky since the epic tasting of last week.

As I was saying , this is the first dram from the bottle.

Nose: The first impression is a massive rush of strawberry followed immediately by mandarin and fruit of passion. Then you have vanilla, oak and salt. After my glass has rest for 10 minutes some wood spices appeared with quite some mint.

Palate: Right from the start there's a rush of white pepper, cayenne pepper with a load of oak ( too much). The fruits are not well defined. Then there is a lot of hot dried ginger with salt. With air, and making more saliva, it becomes like a lemon/banana cream and the oak is now integrated with a cardamom note (not the soapy style). That was preceded by the strawberry, Macmyra style. The malt is also stronger on the mouth in a good way.

Finish: The finish is medium with a general sweetness giving a candied apricot note. The lenght is medium.

Balance: Balance is great on the nose. On the palate it change from so so to very good with time and it stays like that for the finish.

Conclusion: The nose is great from the beginning to end, but the palate seems very sensitive to air. It is best with a bit of it but it goes southway with too much, except if you are a Macmyra fan. I will choose to gas this one. For me, Clynelish usually has tropical fruit. So this one was well selected in that regard but it is not as coastal as other expressions. The flavors are good, but this whisky seems fragile, unstable, so I would approach it with precaution.


Seven years…that is how long it has been since I last tried the standard bottling of Clynelish. And since I have three sparring partners – all of them from Signatory by the way – I felt it was a good preparation to try the classic Clynelish 14 Year Old one more time. Funny detail: this bottling dates from 7th January 2016, my 46th birthday.

Clynelish is known for its waxy nose. We have that here for sure. A nice complexity of salt, sweet and mild smoke. Think pipe tobacco, liquorice, banana, Earl Grey tea that was left too long in the teapot, loads of mint and a surprising hint of mustard seeds. On top of that some fruit appears in the guise of oranges, apples and raisins. Maybe even a blueberry that made a wrong turn. Like I said: complex.

It starts on malt, quickly followed by vanilla, fresh fruit, honey and lots of tropical notes. Think mango and papaya. This is very good. Caramel and honey keep it sweet, while a big note of woodsmoke give it depth. Ginger, pepper, beeswax. All flavours work well together to presented a beautiful malt on the palate.

The finish is medium long on apples and tropical fruit, but both smoke and wax run off with the medals.

I do not exaggerate when I say this is one of the best standard bottlings on the market. Only 40 EUR. This should be in every cabinet. Thanks, Pat!

Thanks for the review. You truly seem to enjoy this malt. What would it take for Clynelish to be a 88-90 pts whisky? Higher ABV? More smoke? Richer mouthfeel? I thought about my Compass Box Oak Cross while reading this review. Most of that vatting is 6 year old Clynelish and a lot of those flavours are similar to what I found, albeit the extra 8 years (or more) yours spent in the casks seem to make a pretty big difference.

Hmm, that's a tough one. It has little to do with ABV. It's more about the overall experience. I've had quite a few independent single cask bottlings from Clynelish that stand out more and are more enjoyable in both nose and taste that come close to 90points in my book. Especially Clynelish 1997 is outstanding.


I must say that this whisky does keep you waiting. So the best approach to Clynelish 14 is to give it time to open up in the bottle. It really does wonders.

NOSE: creamy toffee with fresh fruits, a hint o butane gas, salt, honey (sweet clover honey) with some spices and bees' wax. As it sits in the glass, you also get floral hints, big vanilla and citrus. Beautifully cream-coated nose.

TASTE: oily and fruity arrival which then burst into a lovely complex combination of sweet, sour and peppery flavors. It's like oily honey with black pepper. Vanilla and toffee again.

FINISH: caramel, creme brulee note and a remote hint of peat. At first the finish is abrupt, but the more you come back to this whisky, the better the finish gets.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: a very nice dram which needs time to open up. That being said, I know see why it's mainly used in Johnnie Walker blends - it's a very good carrier of flavors, a nice foundation. And, although, it's pretty good on its own and it shows decent complexity of flavor, I wouldn't buy another bottle.

Alexsweden, I agree. I bought a bottle once and found it pretty boring, if solid.

I won't be buying another OB 14, but I will continue to pick up IBs if they look like good values for a solid "neutral scotch."

@jdnathan if you let it breathe for a few months, you're in for a treat ) it becomes much more interesting with time)


Blew me away

Two things Skeptic; 1-Neither the bottling or the nose led me to expect any sort of greatness in taste. 2-Taking just my score on taste and finish as a percentage would be 96% Point made!

If an 85 whisky blows you away... what will happen if you try a 95 whisky?


I had my expectations set a little bit too high before testing this whisky. It is not bad. Not bad at all.. But not stellar nor enchanting.


Wax! First thing that strikes me is that it is a very waxy nose. Having it breathe for a bit allows it some development. Make way for marzipan, Anjou pears, and vanilla. Bourbon barrel.

There are some more interesting notes here and the nose is really decent but lacking complexity. Something that becomes a theme in this review.

I get a really sweet sour note, Think sour strawberry candies. Jelly strips with sour sugar sprinkles. There is a tiny citrus tang that accompanies and succumbs to the sour sweetness. Sugar powdered marshmallows. It is a really sugary nose.

The tang also gives it a fresh quality that is quite to my liking. A bit like a dry, acidic champagne.


The palate offers rhubarb, vanilla custard, strawberries and something reminiscent of a sweet White wine. Progressing it turns towards bitterness. Mostly sweet, not much else going on here.


Bitterness persists. Pear, waxy, strawberries. Perhaps just the faintest air of smoke. It is a tiny bit floral actually, something i hadn't noticed before and a bit more interesting but still more of the same.

All in all a decent dram but not at all living up to its rather hefty price. At least here in Sweden.

I too found this underwhelming when I went through my first (and probably last) bottle a couple years ago. Boring. No maritime element that I could find, which was the main draw in my buying a bottle.

At least you got the famed wax. I didn't; that at least would have made it interesting to me if not tasty.

It is solid though, with no flaws. My disappointing experience with the OB 14 YO didn't stop me from buying a dirt-cheap IB 6 YO this year, which seems just as good and way better value for when you want a nice simple "neutral scotch."

For the record this is from a 20cl bottle that has been opened about 5 months.


A member of the Diageo range, I’d normally assume this to be caramelised and chill-filtered, but this definitely develops a distinct haze when water is added, and is pleasingly bottled at 46% - maybe there is hope for the world?

Nose - Fragrant, intense and firm. Slightly floral and sweet, with lilies, roses, icing sugar, Turkish delights, white wine, champagne, grapes, some lemon, snuffed candles, brine, with a hint of vanilla pods, and then becomes slightly herbal over time, with hints of thyme.

Taste - Thick, oily, firm and tongue coating. Gentle arrival, creamy, waxy flavour first up with some sweetness of white grapes, Turkish delights and meringue, quickly subsiding into savoury candle wax, olive and sesame oil. Becomes spicy in the development with wholegrain mustard, watercress, hint of horseradish, sea salt, green peppercorns and a herbal flavour of thyme and sage, and a hint of tomato plants. Aside from the initial sweet arrival this is not at all what the nose suggested, but tasty all the same.

Finish - Savoury and drying with salt, ground pepper and ginger, a gentle oakiness, rich tea biscuits, digestives, dry roast peanuts. Later a return of the herbal flavours of thyme and sage.

A delicious whisky, the most savoury whisky I’ve come across so far, with lots of green, dry herbal flavours on the palate and finish.


This is my own personal bottle that I opened in October of 2013, and as of April it is about half full. I have tasted this bottle on 5 occasions with notes (83, 86, 86, 85, 83). The following represents my overall impression of this bottle as it relates to six different Brora’s tasted one night in April.

For bottle code people (like myself): L2227CM000 04172671

Some strange immediate peat and spice to start (after a lid has been on for 20 min). The peat is now dissipating . . . now gone . . . and I am left with sea salt coastal ocean mist. Behind that are some strong fruit notes: concord grapes, gala apples, and pears. There is malt and grain with a hint of wine influence coming through (a “light sherry dusting”). This is “farmy” without any of the authentic “farm” I love in Brora. The malt almost seems contrived and engineered. This is my classic “good” but “nothing fancy” nose. That first second after the lid had trapped the flavors was surprising and intriguing. Coming back after all the big brother Broras . . . this does seem much more like Grant’s Family Reserve: very fruity with faintest touch of peat and wax. The pears and apples really grew with time as did my score.

Fruity: pears, apples, wax, saw dust, orange peel, wood and a “hint” of that Brora tone (mustard) but you really have to look for it. There is a whisper of Brora here to be certain. Almost zero peat to speak of. You really have to hold this one in the mouth for it to develop to its full potential.

Nice spice on peaches, pears and apples. This as a light wave with nice spice on pears, apples and wax . . . with a whisper of peat. The fruit and wax is the main star here. I am getting some ozone and something like sitting beside a chlorine pool. The wax with hints of Brora’s “mustard” are there for those who strain to listen. It is a sad dirge to a wonderful old style of whisky. Not a star but something I would buy again for less then $50.

For all that I don’t like about this, it actually does a good job of balance. Where it fails is the “complexity.” I guess it does have three distinct flavors: fruit, wax, and malt. And they work well together. But everything is too muted on the nose and finish. Easily the least complex dram tonight (to be fair, the next youngest malt is 21 years old). However, it did have some fruit and spice to go along with the wax that definitely gave it some character. If Diageo would just bump up the peat level a tad (to the Benromach level) I would enjoy this far more.

I really like the name and style of this bottle. Love that Diageo is keeping this at 46% . . . but I hate Diageo! I think the age is great and the bottle shape is in my second-tier-style-enjoyment (behind the traditional style bottle shape of Laphroaig and Lagavulin).

Alas, poor Clynelish 14! I knew it, Nock, a whisky of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. It hath borne me on its back dozens of times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!

Where is the smoke? Where is the peat? Where is the complexity? It smacks of sugary tarts and sweets where once hung the most divine farminess that I had sipped I know not how oft.

Fie on Diageo's lack of respect for the tradition and the craft that was (pre-1993) Clynelish. Thank the gods that Brora went out with a farmy/smoky bang and not merely a fruity whimper.

Delightful sentiments! I have not tasted pre-1993 Clynelish. I would love to try this with more smoke and peat (and complexity).


Cleaning out the cabinet, and saw that my bottle of Clynelish 14yo was almost empty. Guess I better make a stop at the distillery and pick up a new bottle, as it is a quite essential part of a man's whisky collection. I've said this before on another clynelish review here. This is a distillery with a solid reputation and a permanent place in my personal top 10.

Nose: Zesty, floral and ever so slightly waxy: a basket of tangerines, a vague scent of pears, vanilla sticks, a whiff of smoke (has always been a mystery to me), sea spray and something reminiscent of paraffin. A dash of water sets the salty aromas free.

Mouth: elegant medium body, clean and oily on the palate: a marriage of fruit and spice. Fruity tones: bitter orange oil, vanilla, undertones of bitter oak and hints of juniper. Spicy tones: black pepper and ginger. clean, elegant. dashes of vanilla, ginger. Medium bodied and slightly oily sea salt. (Water induces a certain softness, spicy notes are replaced by softer fruity ones, but the dryness and bitter remain.)

Finish: Quite long, bitter and salty, with a bit of spicy oak and a drop of smoke in its tail. (with water: soft and long, but the viper lost some of its venom; an overall saltier profile)


The wild cat on the tube is very appealing, a hangover from when this used to be a mainstay of the Flora and fauna range of Diageo malts, I suppose it still is really... A coastal Highland distillery if that is not a contradiction in terms that produces distinctive malt.
Nose: Fino sherry on a sea breeze.
Sweet sea salt vanilla and black pepper. For all those spicy notes it has a very soft mouth feel. Finish: Short but fresh and dry.


If you ask me, Modernism started at Clynelish. And this 14 yo is the liquid expression of Piet Mondrian’s "Composition in Brown and Grey" (google it...I did!)-- with its brownish mustard and grey sections within black line structures. All beset by a soft, fuzzy edge that tapers-off into infinity.

Nose: Vanilla, pineapple, lemons, pears, perfumes, oak, slight smoke.

Palate: Sharp, clean, soft, structured, elegant. Peaks early with dashes of vanilla, pineapple, cucumber and ginger. Pears dusted in confectioner's sugar follow, wrapped in perfume fragrances. A perfect summer dram.

Finish: Sweet,slight oak with a drop of smoke finishing it all off.

I purchased this on my way to Key West on a little three night summer get-away. And it really hit-the-spot. Clynelish 14 feels like an Old Pulteney 12 and Glenmorangie 10 Original put together, but with more age. It starts clean, but tapers-off fuzzy with the smoke and sweetness. Just like the painting aforementioned. When first opened, it was really sharp. It took about two days to settle. Once settled, it became a fragrant and elegant summer dram.


Sometimes I don’t understand the variation in scores given to a whisky in online reviews, and other times I completely understand. Clynelish 14 fits into the latter. It’s a peculiar one, and I can appreciate the disparity of opinions it will provoke. It’s simply not made to fit everyone’s tastes. But it is good, and it’s one of those malts you’ll remember if not for its quality, then at least for its character.

Nose: Honey, vanilla, apples, pears, oak, sea air, lemon rind, marmalade, nutmeg, ginger and LOADS of perfume/floral notes. Seriously floral.

Palate: Medium bodied and slightly oily. A bit fizzy. We’re greeted by vanilla, honey, beeswax, apples, pears, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and an entire meadow of flowers.

Finish: BIG perfume flavours continue to dominate the taste. Aside from the floral notes we have some gentle smoke, butter, apples, pears, cinnamon, brine, oak, and white pepper. Medium finish with some solid coastal notes worked in.

Well, this is definitely a distinctive whisky. It’s like walking along a fisherman’s wharf wearing women’s perfume and holding a bouquet of flowers; something I’m sure you all do regularly. While its coastal character might be compared to Old Pulteney, the floral and perfume notes are unmistakably Clynelish. You’d be hard-pressed to find something similarly blossomy. While I do enjoy this, it’s is a whisky that I need to be in the mood for. On some nights it’s just what the doctor ordered, and some nights I feel like I’m drinking my girlfriend’s perfume. That being said, there is an inimitable character and an adherence to quality here. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy when I’m up for it. It’s different and it’s good. Recommended.

Thanks @BlueNote. I'm also a fan of the DE. I'm working on a bottle of the 1992 release right now. I actually prefer it to the standard 14 yr old, but it's a strange one to say the least. I'm looking forward to reviewing it once I get to know it a little bit better.

Spot on review hunggar. I had a 200ml of this one last year in Scotland. Quite liked it by the time it was finished. I did have a bottle of their Distiller's Edition a few years ago and liked it a lot. Haven't had it since as it is a ridiculous price here in Vancouver.


At $50/bottle, I believe this is very worthwhile.

I realize that not every bottle is the same, but based on my site reviews, I think an average of 83 is too low. I could go 88 but not less than 86 so I used 86. I am putting Mac 15 (Fine Oak) at 90. Middleton Very Rare at 96. Nothing higher but Balvenie 21 (in terms of standard expressions) matches....

So this is a ROBUST bit of taste - sort of reminds me of the Old Pulteney 12 - which I need to go back to a second relationship to confirm (not to mention the 21s stored in the back...:-) ).

Oh, there is a wee bit of a burn - BUT so much taste - sweet - dark - full - that some icing down does it NO harm!! What kind of taste you ask?? Does it matter? Metaphysics aside - it is either worthwhile or not from the existential experience (redundant but meaningful). If you like Mac 15, you will like this though it is different - definitely more aggressive, not quite as smooth and refined.

BTW - for what it is worth, my very first review was of an Aberlour 18. I am looking forward to going back in about 6 mos and re-doing a bottle of that simply for scientific significance.

Highly recommended - you will not be disappointed (after it opens up a 3 - 4 weeks in an open bottle )with a few preliminary sips already gently removed.


Acquired this one finally after much homework at a local bottle shop for $55 USD. By the way does anyone know the story of the feral looking barn cat that is their trademark? Color: Light gold, pilsner gold.

Nose: Immediately after opening salty coastal notes invade the nasal cavity. With a little time the coastal notes relax allowing spicy dried citrus peels (tangerine and lemon) to take the wheel. Freshly cut green apples and notable floral notes are gently peppered with barbecue smoke. A very likable nose. Some layers, not too simple and not too complex.

Body: Medium, slightly creamy

Taste/Palate: More added citrus peel, floral notes have a greater strength going from flowers in a vase (nose) to freshly blooming outdoor flowers. Salinity and brine ride still along over the tongue. Smoke again peppers the end right before you swallow.

Finish: Medium-Long. Relatively drying and bittersweet by way of oak. Hints of salt again... and oak spice in the way of bits of black pepper. So a bit of a drying salt and pepper end. Seems classic and simple. After a little time citrus notes remind you of your earlier sips.

Overall: This is exactly what I was expecting. (It is a good thing.) I did my homework for awhile and I thought I would enjoy this and I did. Its a drama that can transport you to the coastal highland town of Brora in the state of Sutherland. If you like maritime notes and fruity notes this is an excellent and happy marriage to be apart of.

Whisky can also be a drama. ;)

*dram (Stupid auto-correct)


The nose is intriguing. Salty, honeyed, floral, vanilla, green apples and sugared candies (pear drops, pineapple cubes).

On the palate it is creamy, malty, honey, salt, light smoke and peat.

The finish is follows on from the palate with a lingering peppery bite and buttery fruits.

This is a very solid choice. It is a well rounded bottle that knows exactly what it is and what it does well.


Weird. I've read several of the reviews here, and none seem to resemble my experience. Such is the mystery of the single malt!

Color: sunny.

Nose: Clynelish is supposedly famous for its waxiness, and I definitely detect the sweet candle wax aromas here. But far more prominent to me is a spicy sting, like freshly cut jalapenos, seedy mustard, or even horseradish. I'm not at all certain that Clynelish is actually a peated whisky, but there's a definite herbal, wet-grass mustiness that I would normally associate with peat. Adding water brings forth hints of sugary fruits. A unique nose, to say the least.

Body: light and waxy in texture.

Palate: Predominantly spicy, just like the nose. While there are gentle white chocolate, honey, and stewed apple undercurrents, my mouth is mostly on fire with the sensation of hot, juicy peppers and briny salt. Also a dark tea bitterness.

Finish: Short in the throat, but long and bitter on the tongue.

This was a really unique experience, and honestly, I'm almost reluctant to rate it at this point. I've tried this twice, once with a group of friends and tasted against four other drams and once alone and tasted on its own terms, but in neither case do I feel like I really understand its nature. This is unlike any other whisky I've had, and I find it challenging. Whenever I don't immediately love a truly one-of-a-kind whisky, my suspicion is that it'll grow on me and become a beloved favorite. Having said that, at the moment, I don't love it. I find this more a weird than satisfying experience, and I don't think I'd reach for it often but for my determination to become more familiar with what it has to offer. I'm open to this score changing down the road, but for now, I'll call it 82/100.

I just opened my first bottle of Clynelish 14yr and am having the same exact experience as you. Your review echoed my thoughts almost to a tee.


Warm thick slow arrival strong complex fruity middle long pleasant smoky finish. Perfect blend of Islay and Coastal Highland.


Smells tangy. Lemon peel. Pine smoke. Hasty pudding.

Tastes a bit challenging in a good way. Oak. Dried tart fruits. Gloucester cheese. Vanilla. Leather.

Lasts for medium length in the mouth. Bitter oak. Spices. Turning to sweet malt and sugars. Pleasant burn with no water. With a little water, it opens up to a smoother, sweeter disposition. I like it hot and tart without water.

Great paired with an Old Speckled Hen from a smooth flow keg. A swig of ale is the best "water" for this whisky. Nice whisky to sip after fish and chips. Pour freely. No need for just one Clynelish per sitting if you have time in the next morning to wake up without an alarm clock.

Grade: B+


Johnnie Walker states on their Gold Label that Clynelish is the main single malt, so I assume it is this 14 year old. For $40 US less, I will take this one any day over JW Gold. It is a bit too floral and sweet for my tastes, and also not enough smoke. If it were not for these minor quibblings, I would boost this rating up into the low nineties.

MisterDigger - have you ever tried the Oban 14 yr?

I find it very similar to the Clynelish 14 yr - however it's a tad bit more "dry", a pinch more salt, and a fairly short finish.

All in all the Oban 14 yr is a very good malt - just that it hits the $70 price tag in most markets.

If you feel like splurging, sir, K&L will ship to your home state of Louisianna. This Clynelish is exactly what you are wanting,judging from your review. Less sweet/floral, more savory. Yes, the price is admittedly a bit steep. But for the price of two of the bottles you just reviewed, it is worth one this good. Just drink it a little slower and treasure each blessed drop : )



This scotch caught my interest the second it's aromas found my nose. Let's begin there; Nose: Rich buttery sweetness, heavy like fruit cake/hold the fruit. There's no doubt that this is a single malt scotch, fresh Scottish air carries the aromas of the surrounding sea. Unique and antique, it's nostalgia without the memory. There is some char from a distance. Palate: A smooth leather belt dusted in cardamon, dried cloves with a mist of dark sweet rum, so subtle. A hard burnt caramel develops but seizes to fresh oak. That char in the nose still lingers through the palate. Finish: That fresh oak remains present, calm and steady until it is washed over by mild sweet tea. Char has faded. A slight vanilla visits, but a little too late. Did I forget the body?: Light but oily. The oil sits through the entire experience. I would have loved to share the colour of this one but I am sitting in a dark room and my eyes couldn't serve it justice.

I really love this scotch, very original.

Thanks FMichael,

My father in law picked up a bottle on his way back home from Atlanta. I'd heard good things about Clynelish but the 14 year old surpassed all of my expectations. Talisker is another malt I was blown away by. I love Ardbeg and Lagavulin as well, but Talisker gives you the best bang for you buck!

Great review!

This just might be my favorite whisky from the Diageo stable.


“There are horrors beyond life's edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man's evil prying calls them just within our range.”

--HP Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep (one of the few modern works of fiction that feature a "Lich," which is a type of supernatural skeletal undead. The "ring wraiths" in the Lord of the Rings trilogy are like Liches with some minor differences.

Clynelish is fine-ish. Not great. One thing I notice about it every time I order a dram in the pub is the way it eats around the edges of one's gumline like the alcohol in mouthwash or the grain alcohol in Everclear (haven't tasted Everclear since high school, but I still remember the brute power of the stuff). This "gum eating" sensation happens with a few other brands of scotch, such as the cheaper Achentoshans.

Nose: A bit of smoke mixed with citrus-ish flavors.

Palate: Tangerine astringency. Some oak with vanilla. The flavor is certainly better than the mouth feel, which is a bit on the acidic side.

Finish: Bitter oak, more vanilla, and a touch of citrus again that seems slightly lemony. The finish is perhaps the weakest link in the Clynelish chain, aside from the astringent mouth feel around the teeth and gums. Still, it's not bad either. I would describe the finish as "ish," or "eh" or "so-so."

I don't dislike this whisky but it does taste more like a magical potion than most scotch to me. It lacks the organic coherency that makes some scotches seem less like "spirits" and more like a delicious drink for the living rather than a potion from the Great Beyond, borne in the bony hands of Liches which thrive on "ishes" of nursed regrets that suck at edges of one's soul like some eldritch grimalkin.

One thing's sartyn: Clynish is quite often a very good bargain for the money. I've never regretted ordering a glass in a pub, but then again I've never bought a bottle for my home neither.

Glad you guys liked the Lovecraft reference! Back a few years ago, I had an article on Lovecraft that I wrote published in Lovecraft Studies Journal.

If you like Lovecraft's fiction, I recommend taking a look at Supernatural Horror in Literature. It's a magnificent essay.

Here's a link to it: gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/superhor.htm

Like I said, I don't dislike Clynelish 14 and I would order it again in a bar if nothing else looked interesting. It's just not a favorite of mine or anything. It's certainly better than the usual stuff you often find at your local neighborhood bar being passed off as whisky.

Strange that you used a quote from The Thing on the Doorstop as a compelation of this with some of H.P.s other writings is some of the only literature I have here in Monrovia. I really enjoy The Case of Charles Dexter Ward which also has a Lich/phylactery element to it.

I have an unopened bottle of the Clynelish 14 back in the states and was thinking about picking up another bottle in the Togo Duty free en route to Cameroun next month. I think I will pass and go with some other options for the limited slots in my luggage and in my collection.


Last night I took it upon myself to try a Scottish pub nearby that has quite the selection of Whisky. A huge array. This gem is the Highland Stillhouse in Oregon City, OR. Came for the Whisky, stayed for the company.

I ended up meeting the owner of the place, who was sitting at the table next to mine. He happens to be very dear friends with a one Jim Murray. Go figure. We got to talking, and before long we were talking about tasting, nosing, life experiences, and everything of the sort over some drams of his chosing. Truly a splendid time.

This Clynelish 14 was first on the docket just before he and I began talking, and man, what a great value for the price point.

Nose: Very nice, very inviting... I picked up on grass, orchard fruits and honey at the front, with a bit of black pepper in there. Mm. I like.

Palate: This did NOT disappoint! What a palate. More of that grass, barley, orchard fruits like pear, with some peppery heat at the end. That dance that those sweet fruity notes and peppery spices are playing is really, really enjoyable. This bugger was only an 8 dollar dram? Money well spent.

Finish: Long! A big fan here. He hangs on. I get more pear in a big way, orange zest, some more kick. This left a grin on my face. Talk about a killer value!

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Towards the end of this dram is when I began speaking with the owner of the pub. This night was just getting going, in a really good way.

What about the finish on this one? Any good? Ralfie.com dissed the finish, but he said the rest was top drawer. The nose, exquisite, body out of this world. Nose, not so much. I've never tried it. Will soon.

Awesome you have another one that I also have but not tried yet. This is one I will look forward to as well. Thanks again. :)


Nose: Oranges, mandarin, hints of lime. Sweetness and fruit, accompanied with rainfall.

Colour: A shimmering deep yellow almost like apple juice.

Taste: Gentle citrus and upon opening the mouth an immediate and delightful fire warming the entire mouth and tongue. Orange seems to be the noticeable theme, with subtle lemon zest. Fresh and crisp, grassy. I am reminded of lemon leaves.

Finish: Wonderful! The gentle fire lingers on the tongue and in the entire mouth, heating up quickly then slowly cooling. A gradual retreat of the warm glow moves from the base of the tongue to the tip, as surges of wood fire and and heat continue to delight.

Tantalizing. . . .


from a sample-

Nose: Very subtle smoke and sweet citrus fruit, particularly those giant incredible lemons from Sorrento. Honey and a little wax keeping the profile rather calm and not too sweet. The smoke helps here, too. With more air, the smoke subsides a bit and the fruit darkens, too. Orange and lemon are present, and now some dates appear. Cardamom and baked goods on the end of it.

Palate: Very easy on the tongue, though there is a strong bitterness approaching. The waxy lemon and honey are there, and kept in check by the bitterness - a double-edged sword here. Cereal quality, along the lines from Frosted Flakes (it's Grrrreat!). A very direct and simple flavor profile.

Finish: The length of this subsides rather quickly, but some of the smoke remains, very trace amounts, as well as a small touch of wood and those lemons (quality not quantity). I do enjoy this a lot, the flavor profile is great and to my liking, and it's put together well. Other than the abiding bitterness on the palate, that is. The finish is rather brief, too, and very simple. B, on the cusp of B+ (86)


I so wanted to love this and had such high expectations for this after seeing and reading all the reviews praising this whisky. The nose wasn’t bad, nutty, peanut butter almost, with granny smith apples. That got me thoroughly excited, who doesn’t love granny smith apples smothered with peanut butter on them..hell yea!! First taste..just as the nose offered..nutty (almonds/pecans) with maybe a hint of sweet fruit, kind of like burgundy cherry ice cream, not bad at all. I was really digging it at this point. But then came the finish. Oh no..what is that! At first I just could not place what that weird taste was, but after a few drinks and remembering back to my childhood and having the unfortunate experience of tasting soap..thanks mom..I realized…its SOAP! What a major bummer. The finish absolutely killed this for me. Such a great beginning only to be ruined by the ending, just like so many movies…what up Monty Python and the Holy Grail..seriously!! If it wasn’t for the horrible finish, easily give this an 84. Wawawa…

@ Benancio - I too enjoy both the Oban 14 yr, and Clynelish 14 yr...Personally I think the Clynelish stands out a tad bit more in both the nose, and palate - however I like both equally the same...Both really good single malts.

Maybe you got a bad bottle.

I like this scotch. It tastes like Oban 14. I did a blind taste test and it was difficult to tell them apart.

If you don't like this you might not like Oban 14, unless your Clynelish 14 is off.


I'm a little undecided about Clynelish 14 yo, although I'd give it a solid thumbs-up overall. It has a one-of-a-kind nose and taste, but I'm still trying to figure out what's going on in the finish. I've had three drams from a new bottle, and it's that finish that's been the only major change with each encounter.

This one needs a little time and a healthy splash of water to reveal all it has to offer. Too harsh and bitter on the palate when sipped neat or with just a few drops of Adam's ale.

Nose: Some not-unpleasant medicine is tempered with flowers and loads of lemon and lime. Earthy and untamed, and all the better for it.

Arrival/Development: It's off to a great start. A citrus burst with loads of pepper; no soft cream or vanilla here. Turns salty in a hurry, with hints of smoke and licorice. None of the above is especially overwhelming or dominant, so the combined effect is both unique and pleasing.

Finish: A big, long "hmmmmmm," followed by several minutes of head-scratching. Seems to go back and forth between a chalky, quick-drying effect that wipes out everything that's come before, and some bitter caramel/citrus notes. It gets better with time, and with each successive dram, but its erratic behavior remains.

I'd recommend it nonetheless. A fine nose and a pleasant overall taste compensate for an uncertain exit. If I could nose it for an hour, then let it swim around in my mouth forever without having to swallow, it would easily rate a 90-plus.

Bought it today and I would do the review almost exactly the same. I also think the finish lacks a bit, but in the nose and taste it´s quite something. Some nice flavours come back later on in the finish, but by then most people have already lost their attention haha. When I was half way the second dram I felt like experimenting a bit, so I poured some Caol Ila 12 in it just for fun and it turned out just wonderful; they complement eachother beautifully. In the nose you get roses on a beach with a campfire in the background. The Clynelish fills the gaps in the flavour, while the Caol Ila lengthens the finish quite a bit. I think it was about 2/3 Clynelish and 1/3 Caol Ila. If you own both the bottles, give it a shot!

@WhiskyBee this is probably the whisky that benefited the most from oxidation. You'll see that with time, the more you drink it the sweeter it will get. In addition, I found this whisky to be quite "nervous" in the beginning, but with time it relaxed and revealed all its great flavors.


Clynelish distillery is situated near Brora on the north-eastern coast of Scotland. It was built in 1968, next to the original Clynelish distillery which was closed. The original distillery was reopened in May 1969 under the name of Brora and until July 1973 produced a heavily peated whisky to supply the blending industry; this was done to cover a shortage of Islay whisky caused by a drought on the island. Brora Distillery produced whisky up until 1983. Of the whisky produced in the Clynelish distillery only about 1% is sold as single malt, with the rest going into the Johnnie Walker blend.

The nose is sweet with honey, grapes and some vanilla. The famous wax flavour that people often associate with Clynelish is also there, even unmistakably so. In addition there is a certain spiciness and saltiness that I found rather interesting. All in all a rather complex and very enjoyable nose!

The palate is medium-bodied and creamy. Honey and vanilla again make an appearance though rather subdued. In addition there now are oranges and a gentle touch of smoke, reminiscent of bonfire smoke. This is a great mouthfeel, almost perfectly rounded.

The finish is short, warming, very dry and a bit spicy at the end.

I enjoyed myself very much during this tasting session. This single malt has many attractions in store: a complex nose, a wonderfully rounded palate and an interesting finish (if only because of the astonishing dryness). This is what good whisky is all about, and it comes at an affordable price. What more can you ask for?

Nicely written review! While drinking a dram of this I enjoyed reading your comments. Maybe I get some light peat and floral notes on the nose. Didn't know that Clynelish is famous for 'wax' notes. Also liked the history recap.

Greetings to Zurich!

Glad you liked the review, Wills. I very much enjoyed the Clynelish 14yo, a great and complex malt that I am bound to revisit many times.


On the nose my first impression is not great. The first big hit is of straight up harsh spirit. I keep going back but very little emerges. Finally after some water I get less spirit and more grain. There is some underlying muskiness but over all is slightly uninspiring I feel. When I drink it, I feel again that it is slightly drowned out by spirit but the body is very light, smooth and pleasant. There is some sweetness and even a touch of salt left once the sweetness goes. I'm actually quite disappointed as I was hopeing for quite a lot that I haven't found, even the finish, long as it is, does not make me rush back. I will need to wait a while and come back though. Perhaps me or the bottle has had a bad day. There was no unpleasantness or sulphur etc, this was just not as complex, interesting or sweet as I had expected.

I have had those kind of days where nothing tastes good. But I have had the Clynlish 14 and thought it was quite decent, if not spectacular. I really think it merits at least 20 points more than you have scored it. Try it again on another day, or try a different bottle, you may have got a bad one.


A great finish to our class. Medium-to-deep amber in colour, solidly bodied. More sea salt on the nose (like many of these whiskies), wet grass, thick toffee, hay and even rubber. Oily mouthfeel, quite oaky, with paprika, light sherry and caramel. Medium-to-long peppery finish. Very distinctive!

No, I actually like rubbery notes! Especially in a Highland, Island or Islay.

I guess that sense of rubber isn't unpleasent given the high score? Rubbery whisky makes me oogie. But i'm v excited to try this.


Nose: Very interesting. It evolves a lot as it opens and with water. The first notes are more on the grassy/barley side. Then, some honey, tropical fruits and a waxy note that renders this dram quite unique.

Mouth: First it expresses itself... a big kick a salty flavors with spices, then the fruits, honey and again the wax follow in a very pleasant race.

Finale: Medium long and very enjoyable. you will let the flavors go away before taking another sip...during that time, it is hard to not put the nose back in the glass to see how it evolved.

A very very good daily dram.


Nose : Sherried , Buttery with a pinch of coastal salt and black pepper. Rose Petals

Taste: Soft , initial salt from coastal malt , slight smoke , touch of powdered sugar then becoming zesty, juicy oak. Corriander Spice

Finish: Rich Leather , lingering sherry, citrus orange and lemon peel. Long lasting, cracking spice

Balance: This is a great Coastal highland malt, tasty and for those who like sherry barrels ,its well worth the price tag.


The nose opens with sweet barley, honey follows, then the fruit. The smell of the sea comes soon after, which then reveals hints of old wood. After allowing it to open up more, I noticed a faint smell that reminded me of our old produce cellar that I would sneak into as a kid : )

When this stuff hits your palette, all the complexity that makes up the whisky, elegantly unfolds; it's a rather organized dance of flavors. The fruit and honey notes are immediate, followed by salt and old wood (mixed with the barley). The "higher" alcohol content adds some prickliness, but it really compliments the bitter citrus and licorice that follows the other flavors, which I find rather intriguing.

The finish fights between the bitter citrus, salt, and seaweed, but the seaweed wins out in the end. A lovely, fresh finish (like the many Islay malts I am used to).

Until tasting this, Highland Park 12 was my favorite scotch outside of the Islay bottlings. I think I just found another amazing Highlander. Now I have two choices for the quieter days : )

I just got a strong hint of Kiwi fruit with this today...wow : )


Nose: Ocean air, wet beach sand and sweat (like the sand thats been stuck on your legs from a long day at the beach), Strong lemon zest, a tiny touch of brown sugar. The combination of salt water and lemons reminds me of those cool months when dad brings home a sack of raw oysters and we spend most of the day shucking them and eating them on the spot.

Palate: Bitter, maritime qualities throughout. Unfortunately the body is thin and a bit watery.

Finish: Peppery bitterness.

The nose on this one is quite good, however the taste and finish simply didn't live up to the expectations that the nose gave me. It's bit of a disappointment from this classic whisky.

I thought i had a bad bottle of this at one point after buying because of a lot of good reviews. I agree 100% with this review that the very bitter and rough finish is a major problem (2010 problem?).

I certainly noticed the bitterness on the finish as well. That detracts quite a bit for me from an otherwise very pleasant malt


I recently sat down with a nice dram: the clynelish 14 YO. Right from the start it was a very nice experience.

The nose is a blast of sal and citrus with floral and woody notes. Very mouth watering. Very. There's something that reminds me of a freshly sharpend pencil. Pretty estery, but all very balanced and mellow.

In the mouth, the medium bodied coastal whisky gives me back all of this, but what came first was a somewhat sweet toasted barley. And something like Salty candied orange pells. I also get some wet carboard, but it's not bad. It just goes along the pencil shavings to remind me of school day past. Theres also a very cool, almost cold, wood spices that comes along with the vanilla. So the oak is very present.

And the finish is nothing to sneeze at either; The wood, the ester and the spices. It begged for a second mouthfull.

All in all, when I first opened the bottle, I was pretty sure it was a sherry matured scoth, bit after tasting it, I'm pretty sure that some bourbon casks were also used.

It's very reminiscent of a golden aged rum. All very good indeed.


This sample came from the Drink by the Dram program by Master of Malt. I have heard a lot about this malt, so I have been eager to try it out.

Clynelish 14yr is bottled at 46%, and is a light sunlight color.

Nose: Delightful nose, and very crisp. There are notes of vanilla and honey, along with a strong floral bouquet. Coming back to the nose, I am getting some ripe berry fruit.

Palate: Wonderful! Refreshing and lively. Lots of floral notes coming through, and even a little spice on the tongue.

Finish: Long finish, with really great spice and honey notes coming through. Very floral.

This is a really great whisky. It has matured very well, and has no spirity or youthful characteristics. Quite good!

What a terrific dram! I am finishing up my sample tonight, and comparing it against my initial impression from back in February. It really is a wonderful whisky, and "lively, refreshing, and floral" are perfect descriptions.


Nose: sweet, white grapes, honey, very pleasant, a little floral

Taste: sweet greeting at first, some peat, grapes, a little peach flavour, strong barley malt, a little chestnutty, with a moderate to heavy body, which I like.

Finish: long sweet finish with continuing maltiness, chestnut flavour, and with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Balance: pleasant combination of flavours. The slight bitterness on the finish is the only real drawback.

The bitterness on the finish I noted in the review has rounded and mellowed a great deal with the bottle somewhat oxidised. More and more I notice a combination of licorice and lemon citrus present as the delivery moves into the finish of Clynelish 14. A rich flavour profile

Lovely whisky, an absolute regular in my cabinet now :)


I'm new to the world of single malt or whisky in general. I've always enjoyed it but just recently began to research, attend tastings and experiment. So here is my first review:

I purchased this bottle as a compliment to my bottle of talisker to bookend Thanksgiving dinner. Clynelish to start, Talisker as the after dinner drink.

Nose: on first smell very salty, sea weed. After a few more sniffs a stronger floral smell comes through and some vanilla.

Taste: I'm not really sure where to begin. For me it is a bit complex. Smoke (but not too heavy which I enjoy), definite sea salt, floral or grass(?). The more I sip the more sweetness I notice.

Finish: malty vanilla smoothness

Aftertaste: small hint of a medicinal tinge/ iodine maybe?

That is about the best I can do, but wanted to contribute to the site as I really enjoy learning from the other reviewers.


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: Immediate banana sherbet seduction, a serenade of sweet avocado and smokey seaweed, all set in a warm salty sea air, this heady combination liable to make anyone weak at the knees. 2.5

Taste: Soft, warm and caressing. There is a waft of orange incense smoke that fills the palate, turning it into a decadent boudoir of salty luxury, adorned with sprinkled orange peel, mint and spicy cinnamon. 2.0

Finish: The spice really takes over on the finish, tantalizing you with hot honey and orange-wax, infused with prickly nettles and wood shavings. 2.0

Balance: Clynelish is a highland distillery with much history, known both for its coastal character but of course also for its much-mourned husband distillery, Brora, which operated on the same site. There is no room for nostalgia here however, the Clynelish is very much alive and life-affirming. Seductive both in her complexity as well as her soft and voluptuous flavours, this widow is all too happy to have some warm company on a cold and dark night, however don't expect any sleep from this feisty temptress. 2.5


The Clynelish distillery shares terrain with that other distillery, long closed and enjoying a near cult status, Brora (founded in 1819 under the name Clynelish). The current Clynelish distillery was built in 1967, right next to the ‘old’ Clynelish. Since 1968 they produced in tandem, until in August of the same year, the ‘old’ Clynelish was mothballed. Another year later, in 1969, the ‘old’ Clynelish reopened under the name Brora, and started using heavily peated malt, until it was closed permanently in 1983. The ‘new’ Clynelish is still operational. In 2002, this Clynelish 14 Year Old was released.

The nose is complex, lightly salted with dry pineapple, a smoky touch and rather flowery. The light peat is upholstered with vanilla and toffee. Lightly peppered and dry. Wonderful perfume, subtle and inviting.

On the palate, a creamy malt is being let loose on the tastebuds. I get some citrus (grapefruit?) on honey, peat and salt. Seaweed versus fruit, nicely balanced.

The finish is a nice and long extension of the palate, with the smoke and silt dominating. It ends in a bitter death.

I already tasted two sister casks from Clynelish, bottled by Malts of Scotland. They were divine. I expected the same from this official bottling. And while that expectation wasn’t exactly met, this is still a very good whisky, complex yet accessible. Definitely worth your attention.

As I'm sipping a glass of this gem right now, I thought I'd revive this conversation. @Victor I think that the Clynelish 14 is a little more citrusy and seaweedy on the nose than the Old Pulteney, the latter being more on tropical fruits (banana and pineapple) and overall more sweet. On the palate I have to say I find the Clynelish more spicy while the Old Pulteney is more on malty notes and maybe a tad thicker (both are anyway quite creamy). As a side note I'd like to mention that my bottle has been now open for more than a year and is down to a little bit less than a third. Oxidation has really made wonders during this time as it has really enhanced the maritime character of this malt and enhanced its flavors. The scents that, at the opening of the bottle, were simply pungent and acidic on the nose, now have turned into beautiful seaweed, olive and orange notes. It has definitely grown on me during this time.

A lovely malt! Interesting and nice balance/alternation of sweet and dry, with a strong fruitiness and some floral overtones. The fruit flavour seems a little peach-like to me, similar to a more intense and concentrated version of the fruity elements of the Macallan 10 yo. To @drinix, I too very much like the Old Pulteney 12. I find the Clynelish 14 by comparison to show more sweetness, less obvious barley flavour, and a little less saltiness. What do you find?


This is the Douglas Laing & Co 'Old Malt Cask' bottling (not the one pictured).

The smell is initially sea salt, peat, smoke and even a hint of iodine, but gives way to a fruity, vanilla, toffee sweetness. Despite having such strong sounding flavours, it is a genuinely gentle nose. So much so, that after the glass of Smith's 8 Year old, I had to have a glass of water to clear my palate enough to smell anything! Really complex and enjoyable, just not very strong.

The taste is gentle like the nose, but warms nicely and has all the same initial notes - sea salt, peat and smoke. This gives way to subtler notes of caramel fruitiness, with hints of maple syrup. This malt has an unusual taste to it I find hard to describe - it is like the taste of ice, but not cold. This taste balances out the savoury peat, smoke, and the caramel sweetness to give it a refreshing note. Just a hint of spirit buzz right at the end. Mouth-watering, gentle and very complex!

The finish is the strongest part! And while it is long and warming like any good finish should be, it is still fairly restrained. Not much peat in the finish, but plenty of sea salt and smoke, with caramel sweetness in the background.

I was fairly blown away by this malt. It's like an Islay malt, but gentle and mild-mannered! It is too gentle to have after a lot of other malts, even some fairly gentle speysides, but if you get to this one first, it is genuinely fantastic!

@Dougful - this one is pretty unique really. It's almost someone took a mix of gentle speysiders and some of the heavier highlanders and put them together just right, and added some unique twists. That ice taste (which I've since heard someone describe as a 'blue ice' taste) is completely unique, and really sets this apart. But really what other malt has peat, smoke, sea salt and iodine, but us light, subtle and gentle? Certainly worth looking at, but do remember it is the Douglas Laing and Co bottling...

This sounds terrific, a great review. This plus the beginner's whisky guide article have put this on on my map and my wishlist.

jdcook, I know it has been a while since this review, but i'm curious what other single malts you might compare to this one that may have a similar flavor profile?

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