Clynelish SMWS 26.117 “Silky smooth sundowner”

27.117 1.jpg

Opened this one up for a recent drinking fun time with fellow whisky drinkers.

Hey, I’m not the biggest fan of Clynelish when it’s aged in ex-bourbon casks. I prefer it finished in something, as their malt takes to finishes or unique maturation really well.

So of course, when I heard about Clynelish SMWS 26.117 “Silky smooth sundowner”, I was interested. It’s aged in Sauternes casks!

And then, after buying it, and saving it for a tasting, I sat back and had some other Sauternes cask whiskies. And found a pattern in my Sauternes whisky reviews:

I’m not the biggest fan of Sauternes casks either.

Thus I’m wondering why I own this bottle. I certainly like the look, and the name is fun. So there’s that. And really, just because you don’t like certain aspects that majorly impact the flavour, those aren’t reasons to not buy a whisky.

Or wait… maybe they are.

None the less, I went into this with mixed feelings. It may be good, it may be bad. Who knows. SMWS has given me some good whiskies before, why doubt them?

So now that I hammered home my biases for you to ignore, let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: 165.99 CAD through the SMWS Canada distribution

Region: Highland

Date Distlled: April 2001

Age: 14 years

Cask Type: 2nd fill Sauternes hogshead

Outturn: 282

Abv: 56.8%

Colour: 10Y 9/6

Nose: Limeade, yeast, pear, straw, grapefruit

Citrus, unsurprisingly. However not all lemon, like other Sauternes whisky casks I’ve had. Reminds me of a white wine, or a Champagne more than a whisky.

There’s no honey or wax on this one, compared to other Clynelish. Odd.

I’m wondering if the 2nd fill has mellowed out the sweeter citrus aspects here. Or maybe the malt just pairs well with it. Or if the floral aspects have been drowned in the river.

Taste: Pepper, mace, lemon pie, butter, floral, white chocolate, casia buds

Mace is the outer shell of nutmeg. It’s a lighter nutmeg flavour.

Given time, the buttery aspects really shine here. The floral aspects of Clynelish are now here, but they work alongside the white wine aspects.

That all said, it’s very light in flavour. If you’re not a fan of lighter sweets, light flavours, and overall wine elements, this isn’t for you. While the whisky hasn’t been blocked out here like the nose, I feel that it’s fighting to stay in there.

Maybe this was in the cask too long?

Finish: Salt, grapefruit, alcohol, caramel, lemon rind, almond

Finish has a good amount of alcohol, salt, more citrus, and nuttiness going on. It’s more lemon aspects.

Again, as time goes on, this acts more like a wine than a whisky, but you wanted a whisky. You didn’t ask for a wine.

Conclusion: It’s an odd one. Looking at my archive, I’ve rated other Sauternes casks lower and some higher. I think here it tried to strike a balance, and didn’t.

Not to say it’s a bad thing to drink; it’s just not a great whisky. It is a summer whisky, with light elements and is generally refreshing. The taste has this butter element that I really enjoyed.

On the other hand, there are moments where you wonder if you’re drinking a Pinot Grigio instead of a Highland Whisky. Anyone who loves Clynelish probably won’t enjoy this, because the standards of Clynelish are missing.


Scotch review #592, Highland review #106, Whisky Network review #988

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