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Nose: sea air, sour cream, distant smoke, very faint echoes of the later sweeter Brora bloodline, overripe raspberry, laundry smell blowing out the drier vent, Colorado Rockies mountain air before a lightning storm, brown sugar, beeswax lip balm.
Mouth: Hay, alcohol fizzle, white pepper, mocha, butter scotch, scotch broom in bloom, hard Italian mineral water, no sulfur, slightly dull arc that is less than desirable and deadens the flavors at cask strength.
Medium finish that is a bit tanniny and bitter but the bitterness, oldly enough, does not seem to come from the 22 years in a woody cask. Rather, it seems to be joined at the hip to the spirit itself.
With a little water, the nose turns sweeter and creamier, and the palate opens up while being a little more effervescent, surprisingly. Yes, the finish improves and gets a bit longer due to the tongue's ability to process the flavors better at lower ABV.
Overall, I would rank this whisky as having some older characteristics of Clynelish with the newer sweeter profile of today's Clynie Speyside wannabees. I was hoping for more of a powerful, farmy Clynelish in this dram, but, alas, such drams are pretty much all dearly departed. Still, this one a fair to middling midway point, and thus better than nothing at all.
In all honesty, the last Brora I tasted was way too sweet, but even still it blew the doors of this Editions bottling, which, in my opinion, is overpriced at nearly $200. Not worth it unless you make over 150K per year or you don't have a mortgage to pay. I tasted the 15 year Exclusive Cask bottling of Clynelish a few years back. It started out rough, but as it oxygenated, it was more reminiscent of the old Clynelishes than this 1989 bottling before me now.
Do I regret buying this bottle? No, I don't. But I would rather have tasted a dram at a friend's house, or been able to buy a sample instead. Curiosity killed the hep cat's wallet. And, yes, I'm dating myself by using the word "hep." But that's the reason why I can recall the old Clynelishes. Because I am that old. Sometimes age does pay off with wisdom, if you consider a mental measuring stick with highland malts "wisdom."
The finish on this waxy-eared oldster laboring to part the petals of a young sweet flower is not as complex as I would have hoped. Indeed, the finish suffers for all o' that, and leaves one's brain in slight disarray, or at least reeling from a rather sordid leitmotif in this old duff's review.
But the overall effect of this dram certainly falls short of regret. Echoes of a duffer's dream, it is, which yon was Clynelish, 'fore sibling Brora gave up the ghost, and 'twas laid to rest like an overwrought cairn . . . piled high as castle walls in the green green grass of home (for sheep, that is).