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Clynelish Distillery
Brora, Sutherland KW9 6LR Scotland
Tel: +44 (0) 1408 623000 Fax: +44 (0) 1408 623004
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Distilleries here on the stormy sea coast of Sutherland were forever few and far between, yet malt whisky enthusiasts have always championed Clynelish™ over many more famous names. When the original distillery was built in 1819 by the future Duke of Sutherland, the quality of Clynelish™ whisky was so prized that only private customers were supplied.

Over the years, Clynelish™ has continued to be held in high regard by experts. The great Victorian, Professor George Saintsbury, selected it as a favourite and today's malt whisky gurus consistently praise its unique combination of North Highland and maritime qualities.

You can almost taste the sea air in Clynelish, with its crisp, medium-bodied, mustard-fresh style. Although the forward, pungent smokiness of Islay seems to be absent at first, there are notable traces of it. Don’t think that this is a heavy malt, though. Its clean taste makes it a fine aperitif – and you can enjoy it just as much later in the evening, such is its versatility.

“The most coastal-tasting mainland whiskies are those from Clynelish, between Inverness and Wick. They typically have seaweedy, salty and mustard-like aromas and flavours. Mustard-and-cress, perhaps? The 14-year-old is less peaty than some older editions.” Michael Jackson, whisky writer and expert.

Clynelish is owned by Diageo.

Courtesy of Clynelish Distillery


Appearance: Yellow gold.

Nose: Light candle wax, with some sugar. A faint floral fragrance. Wax comes up with water - scented candle wax. Dried flowers on a beach. Later, brown sugar.

Body: Firm, light to medium.

Palate: Pleasant mouthfeel, not as waxy as some expressions; maritime generally.

Finish: Some salt in the aftertaste; dryish, even slightly bitter finish.
Clynelish Distillery

Located on the A9 in the popular holiday town of Brora with commanding views of the North Sea. Spring water from the Clynemilton burn is used to produce this fruity, slightly smoky Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Built in 1819 on his new farm, Clynelish provided a ready market for barley grown by the future Duke of Sutherland’s tenants, cruelly evicted from their crofts inland to make way for sheep in the notorious Highland Clearances. Life was a virtuous circle. The local mine provided coal to heat the stills. Spent grains from the distillery fed local livestock. Their manure improved the quality of the land… on which the barley was grown… from which malt whisky was made.

Unusually, the origins of the name Clynelish itself are infrequently referred to, but the Gaelic for a green plain or pasture is Cluain, whilst a Lios or Leas is an enclosure or garden – so we can speculate that the name Cluain-Lios, duly anglicised as Clyne-Lish, simply refers to cultivated land, in other words, a farm. And as we’ve seen, the distillery was indeed built on Clynelish Farm, which still exists.

The whisky was highly regarded. Only private customers were supplied; ‘trade orders’ were refused. In 1886 the early whisky tourist, Alfred Barnard, wrote that this was ‘always the highest priced of any Scotch whisky’ whilst it was sold around the beginning of the twentieth century as ‘The Finest Highland Malt Whisky’. Professor Saintsbury, whose practice was to keep a ‘living cask’ of the finest malt whiskies, spoke highly of ‘Clyne Lish’ in his 1920 classic, ‘Notes On A Cellar Book’, commenting ‘A friend of mine from Oxford days… held some mixed Clyne Lish and Glenlivet of mine to be the best whisky he had ever drunk.’

The barley that makes Clynelish™ is still malted in the Northern Highlands and water is still piped down from the Clynemilton Burn to the distillery. They go to make a cool, coastal single malt whisky, aged in oak casks for at least fourteen years.

The original distillery was closed for a short time but reopened as Brora Distillery from April 1969 until May 1983. It produced a heavily peated whisky for blending with a completely different character, leaving the new Clynelish to carry on the tradition.

The new Clynelish is consequently one of the youngest distilleries on the malt map, with production starting in 1967. It is three times the size of the original distillery, and has retained the traditional still and water supply to guarantee the authentic character of the malt.

Distillery Manager: Andrew Millsopp

January – March
Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
Tours are available

April – May
Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
Tours: 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 4pm

June – September
Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 12pm - 5pm
Tours: Throughout the day, last tour 4pm

Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm
Tours: 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 4pm

November – December
Monday - Friday:
10am - 5pm
Tours are available.

Closed between Christmas and New Year

All up-to-date information for our distilleries can be found on www.discovering-distilleries.com

Contact Us
Clynelish Distillery,
Brora, Sutherland
Tel: +44 (0) 1408 623000 Fax: +44 (0) 1408 623004

Courtesy of Clynelish Distillery