Clynelish Distillery, Highlands

Clynelish Distillery, Highlands

The name and the history of Clynelish (the first syllable rhymes with "wine" and the second with "leash") are closely associated with the adjacent distillery, Brora. It was built to augment the capacity of the neighbouring, century-old Brora distillery, but eventually, demand proved insufficient to sustain both in production. Brora was eventually mothballed in 1983.

Clynelish is settled in a rural setting with a still house with great windows overlooking the fishing and golfing resort of Brora. Its buildings are the exact replica of the Islay distillery, Caol Ila.

Clynelish is Sutherland’s only distillery. It was established in 1819 by the Marquis of Stafford who was later granted the position as the first Duke of Sutherland. Originally, it was used as an outlet for cheap grain which he obtained from his tenant farms during the Highland clearances. In addition, the location was selected due to its proximity to the Brora coal field that had operated since the 16th century.

As such, it was one of the first purpose-built distilleries, commencing production in 1821. The recession of 1931, following the American depression, forced Clynelish to close and full production was not restored again until the end of World War II. Electricity replaced coal at Clynelish in the 1960s and, in 1968, a new neighbouring distillery was added. The two distilleries operated alongside each other up until 1983 when the original one was closed. The whisky from the original distillery was sold as ‘Brora’ and subsequently now is available only as a highly sought-after collectable.

Clynelish is a classic case of a coastal malt having a slightly "island" character (it uses a medium peating), and is noted for its oily, beeswax flavour profile. A long fermentation and slow distillation contribute to the spirit’s uniquely waxy character.

(Adapted from the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2024)

Show more filters

No Results Found