The Malt Nuts killed it in 2017. We did a blind Port Ellen tasting with some old Caol Ila and now we’re doing a blind Brora tasting with some old Clynelish. How cool is that? Now, if you’re not sure why we’d be doing that it’s because Clynelish 1 came to be known as Brora after Clynelish 2 was built across the street from it. There is a deeper history to Brora than that, but that’s the salient point in a nutshell.
Malt Nuts: Old Clynelish and Blind Brora rounds
- Malt Nuts Old Clynelish + Brora Rounds
- Malt Nuts Old Clynelish Ex-Bourbon Casks
- Malt Nuts Old Clynelish + Brora Ex-Sherry Casks
Two blind rounds, one of which holds a Brora. Reading this you get the reveal right away, but our reveal was done at the end making it a total surprise. I wish there was a way I could make it so you could play along, but you’ll have to settle for the notes. And with that, on to the Malt Nuts Old Clynelish and Blind Brora!
Malt Nuts Old Clynelish and Blind Brora ex-Bourbon
1A: Old Malt Cask Clynelish 21 years (90-11): 50% – Refill Hogshead
- Nose: Honey, pears, mineral, tropical fruit, malt and a bit of wax and Canadian Mint.
- Palate: Pear heavy fruit, minerality, tropical fruit, wax, spice, malt and Canadian Mint.
- Finish: Long -> fruit, tropical fruit, wax and spice.
- Overall: B (83-86) Nothing special, but a good whisky and a solid representation of a Clynelish. It bordered on a B+ but came up just shy on the complexity.
1B: Cadenhead Clynelish 21 years: 52.4%
- Nose: Fruit, malt, apricots, honey, nuts and wax.
- Palate: Fruit malt, wax, leather, honey, melon and nuts.
- Finish: Long -> Fruit, nuts, wax and malt.
- Overall: B (83-86) Like 1A this one approached the B+ level, but didn’t quite make it. If I were to pick between the two I’d pick 1A.
Malt Nuts Old Clynelish and Blind Brora ex-Sherry
2A: Signatory Clynelish 20 years (96-17): 46% – Refill Sherry Butt
- Nose: Dark fruit, nuts, cocoa, toasted malt, banana, caramel and toffee.
- Palate: Dark fruit, nuts, cocoa, butterscotch, honey, toffee and lemon peel.
- Finish: Long -> Dark fruit, nuts, cocoa and butterscotch
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Pegged this one as being a sherry cask right away and it was great. It also ended up being related to 2B, both were filled on the same day; this was cask 11388.
2B: Signatory Clynelish 20 years (96-17): 46% – Refill Butt
- Nose: Banana bread, Twizzlers, malt, cocoa and spice.
- Palate: Banana bread, Twizzlers, malt, cocoa, spice and a touch farmy.
- Finish: Long -> Banana bread, wax, malt and spice.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) The sherry was nowhere near as pronounced here, but it was still lovely and as stated above was filled on the same date as 2A; this was cask 11381
2C: Signatory Brora 21 years (81-03): 46% – Refill Sherry Butt
- Nose: Minerality, honey, vanilla, lemon, saline and a meaty essence.
- Palate: Minerality, gone, spirity and peaty.
- Finish: Long -> Minerality, honey, spirit and smoke.
- Overall: C (73-76) This just tastes raw and brutally spirit driven. It was my front-runner as the Brora with the phenolic notes running through it.
2D: Chieftain’s Clynelish 21 years (90-11): 58.1% – Sherry Butt
- Nose: Sherry, char, nuts, petrol, cocoa, alkaline and vanilla.
- Palate: Sherry, char, nuts, cocoa, sulfur, petrol, alkaline and spice.
- Finish: Long -> Sherry, malt, char, nuts and cocoa.
- Overall: A- (90-92) Damn this is tasty. It’s sweet, it’s funky it’s multi-dimensional and complex… yeah man… yeah.
2E:Carn Mor Clynelish 20 years (97-17): 57% – Sherry Puncheon
- Nose: Nutty, sherry, char, cinnamon oil, malt, Smarties, dried strawberries.
- Palate: Nutty, sherry, char, cinnamon, vanilla, alkaline.
- Finish: Long -> Sherry, oily nuts, cinnamon and vanilla.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Good… really good (yes that’s all I wrote about that one that night).
2F: Signatory Vintage Clynelish 21 years (95-17): 54.7% – Refill Sherry Butt
- Nose: Banana, malt, sherry, toffee, vanilla, fruit and a touch sulfur.
- Palate: Banana, malt, toggle, spice, farmy, char and oil.
- Finish: Long -> Banana, malt, spice and oil.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Decent complexity and interesting, but barely squeaked out that B+. The most sulfur in a whisky that night.
2G: Signatory Vintage Clynelish 21 years (95-17): 55.7% – Refill Sherry Butt
- Nose: Lemon, wax, fruit, honey, toffee, spice, dark sweets and minerality.
- Palate: Lemon, wax, fruit, honey, toffee, spice, farmy malt and lots of pear.
- Finish: Long -> Honey, lemon, wax, fruit and mineral water.
- Overall: A- (90-92) This was my favorite of the night and almost grabbed an A. It was seriously tasty stuff. The high amounts of lemon and wax put it as my second guess for the Brora if 2C was a bust, but the lack of smoke kept it a distant second.
Bonus: The Arran 15 years (99-15): 56.3% – ex-Sherry cask
I didn’t take notes on this one, but I did mark it as a B+ (87-89) / A- (90-92)… so there’s that.
I’ve never had a Brora that was as bad as this one. It was supposedly aged for 21 years in an ex-sherry barrel, but it was nearly clear when it came out which means it had to be the most tired, used and re-re-re-used barrel in the warehouse. That’s a whisky meant to be blending stock, but got bottled as a single malt because… Brora. An educational experience for sure.
Till next time, cheers!