Clynelish, 57.3%

Price: $96.00 Issue: Spring 2011 Reviewer: Dominic Roskrow

There's something enigmatic and highly attractive about this distillery and its deceased brother, Brora. Perhaps it's the unpredictability; there are plenty of independent releases of varied and often questionable quality, and you're never quite sure what's going to turn up. Even iconic expressions such as the 30 year olds can vary from quite sublime to appalling and sulfury when in the wrong hands.

When the malts from both distilleries are good, though — and the official bottlings tend to be — they're very, very good. This Clynelish is a delightful surprise from the beginning, its nose some way removed from the official 14 year old, and more in common with some recent Diageo-release Broras, mixing soft maritime notes with squiggly peat and some fruit notes. The palate is complex and attractive, with savory peat, sweet pineapple, salt, light fish, drizzled lemon, pepper, chili, and cardamom. It all makes for a big, complex, evolving (and grown up) whisky — and great value for the price tag.