From the name alone, you’d guess this was a whisky from Clynelish and you’d be right. Such waxiness is a core feature of the popularity for this distillery, on the outskirts of Brora, Sutherland. The only other distillery that comes close, is the wonderfully under the radar Dailuaine and let’s keep it that way.
The hype train has encircled Clynelish with most bottlings being snapped up promptly nowadays. Releases aren’t that plentiful in spite of its increasing popularity. Diageo tends to need the distillate for its blends and bottlings in recent years from the likes of Cadenhead’s have all but dried up. However, a regular source remains the SMWS, who are releasing at the more juvenile end of the spectrum. If its age that you’re looking for, then you have to consider Wemyss, who are consistent bottlers of this distillery at a good age.
We’re all left on the platform either stranded or jumping on board, as the hype train departs to its next destination. Within the Clynelish realm of late, I’ve felt that some of the releases have been overhyped and certainly over-sherried. In doing so my fondness of what’s arriving on platform 1 has diminished in recent times and I’ve become cautious when considering a Clynelish purchase.
We talk about FOMO a lot in whisky, but we must also talk about restraint and considering if we truly need something. There’s a great deal of whisky in our collective homes, yet do we need another release with that art print, or another Ardbeg, just because it has 5 on the label?
It’s a scenario I’m sure we’re all too familiar with, and of late, I’ve developed a good habit of stepping back from an immediate impulse. In theory, I’ve been meaning to come up with some golden list of questions and if a bottle passes each and every single one, then a purchase must be the outcome. I still haven’t come up with the winning formula, but I have adopted a more patient approach and once my mind has been made up – what next?
Well that’s the question, isn’t it? Many of the bottles were unsurprisingly sold out and others I’ve stepped away from, remain on sale. I can honestly say, I’ve not missed a single one and if anything, you look back on the lack of a transaction with a certain satisfaction. We cannot have or try everything, so why even bother? I know some friends have decided on budgets, or even worse, going a month without a purchase, only at the stroke of midnight on the last day, resorting to buying everything within sight. This clearly defeats the purpose and devalues your time with a whisky. More than ever, we should be appreciative of the small things in life and much of what we took previously for granted. The ability to have a dram and relax without too many hassles, or chew the fat with a friend in the comfort of a nearby pub. Boris is encouraging us to go out again, while Nicola is advising a more cautious approach. In the dawning of this new era, our decisions and actions now have more meaning.
I’ll give you an example. A recent reopening from a particular favourite whisky retailer prompted my enquiry as to what they had aside for me. Time to get stuck into the small pile I thought. On the list was a particularly desirable bottle that I had already purchased from them, but for whatever reason, they had not taken it out of my stash. I could have completed the transaction and enjoyed a spare, or the more unscrupulous, would have flipped it at auction for more than double what they had paid. I felt honesty was the best option and as much as I would have enjoyed reaching for that 2nd bottle in 10-20 years’ time, there will be others to enjoy instead.
Taking us nicely onto this Tropical Scented Candle, which is exclusive to their cask club, or in other words, available only from Wemyss and their website. Thankfully, there’s no fee for joining, only an email address. This Clynelish is bottled from a single hogshead, distilled in 1997 and bottled at 22 years of age. A pleasing cask strength of 49.8% is the final result along with an outturn of 236 bottles.
Wemyss Malts Tropical Scented Candle – review
On the nose: some blood orange, butterscotch and yes, the wax. Mango, lime jelly show themselves after a patience approach. A little cinnamon mixes well with apple juice. There’s also a sooty aspect that acts as a seasoning, linseed oil, a touch of blackcurrant and petrichor. Water, I felt, wasn’t hugely beneficial.
In the mouth: toffee and digestive with a gentle waxiness that you’d hope for. A vanilla cone, quince and honeycomb. A playful texture that lingers throughout. Black pepper and a chalky aspect, which I enjoy before into a resinous finish. More hints of linseed and a woody dampness as well.
Not an immediate Clynelish. At first, I was a little disappointed after expectations were heightened around the vintage including the year of distillation. Plus, the bottle name, suggests all the joyful aspects that you hope each release from this distillery will contain. Given some of the bonkers names we’ve seen from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in recent times, I’m happy to report that the name does reflect elements of the contents. Wemyss to their credit, tend to keep the names reasonable and still act as an indicator.
But there’s still a little bit of work to be done, to extract maximum enjoyment from this Clynelish. And when you have succeeded in your efforts, you’ll be somewhat satisfied. A return to form after the 3rd cask club bottling, which was a 30 year old Bowmore that I’ve heard nothing but disappointment regarding and at nearly £600, it has proven to be a disappointing purchase for some.
Meanwhile, this Clynelish will set you back £199.95, which I think is fair given how The Whisky Exchange keeps on raising prices for this distillery and this year of distillation, or thereabouts. Sadly, Wemyss don’t do free postage for a sizeable purchase such as this. So, the UK will cost an extra £5, with further afield destinations, obviously costing more.
In my fussy whisky bubble realm, I always have a soft spot for Clynelish. A bottle of this I can see delivering an appropriate amount of joy. So, a thumbs up and some serious consideration from me about a purchase – sadly my hit-list is growing exceptionally long right now and I’m still working on that formula.
My thanks to Wemyss for the sample and the 2nd photograph in this article.