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Clynelish in a nutshell:

founded: 1968
owner: Diageo
region: Highlands
location: 58° 01’ 25” N 03° 52’ 07” W
status: active
capacity: 4,800,000 litres
washbacks: 8 Oregon pine, 2 stainless steel
stills: 6
source of water: Clynemilton Burn
tours: yes


One of the most northerly Scotch whisky distilleries, it was built in the boom period of the 1960s and opened in 1968. It was erected right next door to the old Clynelish distillery, which in time got renamed to Brora, and whose peaty products from the 1970s and early 1980s have gained a cult status. Brora (former Clynelish) has been discussed in more depth in its appropriate place.

The thoroughly modern – both technically and visually – distillery located in the town of Brora on the north-eastern coast of Scotland produces a very characteristic whisky profile, distinctly maritime in character, the core ingredient of one of the flagship blends by Diageo, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, a continuation of the former, discontinued 18yo expression of the popular brand. In the Clynelish whisky profile one can trace a kind waxy characteristics resulting from the fact that the spirit stills are – unlike in other Scotch distilleries – larger than the wash stills, giving an oily residue on the walls of the feints receiver, which is not removed at Clynelish and partially returns to the spirit when the feints are being redistilled.

Diageo announced plans of an investment in a major expansion in 2014, but they have obviously changed their intentions – possible just postponed the project, which we will be tracking to see what happens.

The core range of Clynelish whisky has for many years consisted entirely of the Clynelish 14yo single malt in the Flora & Fauna range. It was replaced with another 14-year-old, but fully official expression, launched in 2002. Several other official bottlings have hit the market as well, but the range is incomparably smaller than from other, more intensively promoted brands. This, however, is remedied by the relatively large offer from independent bottlers, with some real gems popping up from time to time.
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