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Wemyss Malts Tropical Scented Candle

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

Color: butterscotch.

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.

Conclusions

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.

Score: 7/10

My thanks to Wemyss for the sample and the 2nd photograph in this article.

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Avatar
    Barsanuphius says:

    Hey Jason,

    Just wanted to give you props for actually specifying “mango” in your notes instead of the generic “tropical fruits” that I see some reviewers using. Having lived in the tropics for some years, that annoys me to no end. When someone says “tropical fruits” in their notes, I think “Would you care to specify which of the dozens of tropical fruits you mean? Guanabana? Jaboticaba? Pineapple? Black sapote? Mango? Pomelo? Dragonfruit? Jackfruit? Mangosteen? Passionfruit? Papaya? Lychee? Cherimoya? Guava? Coconut? Carambola? Jamaican cherry? Banana? etc…”

    I think when people say “tropical fruits” they most likely mean pineapple / mango / coconut (banana usually seems to be called out by name as separate from these three), but pineapple / mango / coconut (as well as the rest of the fruits) are different enough to warrant calling them out specifically; the flavors aren’t THAT similar where if you get one of them in the nose / palate, you would have to be getting the other two.

    If a reviewer doesn’t know many of the flavors of tropical fruits, then I think they should just name the ones they are picking up on rather than making the less-helpful note of “tropical fruits” (or the even less helpful designation of “tropical notes”, which then by extension includes numerous floral scents like frangipani that are distinctive enough to be mentioned by name), then work on expanding their taste / smell experience by trying some of the other tropical fruits. Could you imagine if there were reviewers in the tropics who just used “temperate fruits” as a catch-all? “So… do you mean kiwi? Watermelon? Apple? Cantaloupe? Blueberry? Pear? Strawberry? Grape? Peach? Plum? Quince? etc…” (Props also for knowing the flavor of quince.) Surely no reviewer would be taken seriously for making such a designation.

    As for Clynelish, I’m afraid I was disappointed in my purchase of a 23-year-old (distilled 1995) Signatory Cask Strength (53%) single cask bottling (natural color and NCF as usual). Certainly $230 is (to me at least) objectively reasonable for a bottle with such stats, but the contents were just ok to me, probably a 6/10 on your rating scale. I’ve gone down half of the bottle over the past several months and experimented with water, time in the glass, etc., and I don’t get much more than honey notes, perhaps with a slight mustiness. The fullness and “waxy” texture is there, and that is great, and there aren’t any “off” notes, but there’s just not much complexity for me, compared to many of the couple hundred other bottles I’ve had in the $40 – $250 price range. The 14-year seems to have more complexity to me, but granted it doesn’t have the nice mouthfeel of the 23-year. It’s a nice “session” bottle for those times you just want a pleasant dram without much to dissect, but $230 is a little much for that to me. I do plan on giving well-aged Clynelish at least one more chance in the future, as I know single cask bottlings vary quite a bit.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Barsanuphius

      Thanks for commenting. I do need to expand my knowledge of tropical fruits. I’ve yet to pick up jackfruit in something, but the Dailuaine last night certainly had a coconut vibe going for it.

      Personally, I just try to pick out the core flavours and aromas. And describe them as best I can. There is a tendency from some to over embellished tasting notes or just to pick out vanilla caramel etc. Sometimes you need to work a little bit harder as with this Clynelish.

      I’m sure a lot of whisky is being sold now on the basis of name or vintage. We’re putting a lot of faith in bottlers how are asking increasingly higher prices for these things. There’s something to be said at times for buying at the cheaper end of the scale.

      Cheers, Jason.

      1. Avatar
        Barsanuphius says:

        Yes, I think a good reviewer / bottler is able to describe a whisky in a “golden mean” between too simplistic (e.g. “it’s sweet”) and too detailed (e.g. “it has the mustiness of late-17th century books kept in the third story of a non-temperature-controlled British library”).

        A couple notable tropical fruit notes I’ve found in spirits so far have been the Springbank 12 CS 56.2%, the dominant note of which is jaboticaba, yet which I never saw mentioned as a note in any of the reviews for it likely because few people have ever had a jaboticaba tree they’ve picked fruit from regularly; and Porfidio Extra Anejo, which tastes like liquefied overripe guanabana. If someone had not tasted guanabana before, I don’t know how in the world they’d describe that liquid – it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever tried, though it will take me a long time to finish that bottle since it’s such a bizarre flavor that I’m rarely ever in the mood for. It may even border on jackfruit; give it a try if you have the chance!

        Judging by the amount of 1995 Clynelish that Signatory has been bottling, I think they must have made a general purchase from Clynelish sometime in the past of many barrels, so perhaps the quality of some of them is less because they weren’t specifically selected barrels that were picked at or near the time they would be bottled. Just a guess.

        1. Jason
          Jason says:

          I find it interesting the co-tastings and articles I’ve done, thousands of miles apart, very different cuisines and yet you can pick up themes.

          I’ve had jackfruit once; cannot say it was a must repeat experience. But we’ll see how guanabana fares one day.

          We’re certainly seeing alot from Signatory right now, which has its benefits as some of the distillery only stuff for Ballechin and Edradour has popped up at retail. Yes, I’m sure you’re right. They have a large parcel of stock and we’re seeing members of that.

          1. Avatar
            Barsanuphius says:

            Haha yeah Jackfruit was a one-and-done experience for me too.

            I do enjoy those 12-13 y.o. single cask Edradour CS releases, though the quirkiness of the flavor has me reaching for it infrequently, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s one of my favorite glass bottles / corks as well. Signatory really did put together a nice all-around package for the offering.

    2. Avatar
      andrew says:

      Ah, but what sort of Honey Barsanuphius? Acacia Honey perhaps or something more robust like Eucalyptus Honey?

      Snark aside, I do understand what my you’re driving at but everyones definition of something evening as precise as Mango (the smell of which I genuinely always reminds me of rotting fruit) is hugely subjective. I think sometimes the more precise you get, the more subjective things get. Tropical notes are generally what you say they are, a composite of the mainstayers of tropical juices commonly found around the world. The broadness of that descriptor is less likely to be as variable as Mango is for people. Well, maybe!

      1. Jason
        Jason says:

        Hi Andrew

        Certainly not Acacia Honey! Mark likes to go on about Terroir alot here, but honey is very reflective of the landscape and locality. We’re spoiled with some local producers and its always something I look out for on my Scottish travels. Even had a lovely London honey once which just shows you.

        Cheers, Jason.

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