By Richard Thomas
Apple Basket is a Wemyss Malts single cask release from the Highland distillery of Clynelish, a distillery that has appeared in Wemyss offerings before, such as Toffee Glaze and A Day At The Coast. This particular single cask produced 339 bottles at the customary 46% abv, and came from a 1997 distillate, making it a 16 year old (although released in 2014, it was bottled in 2013).
Clynelish is the most confusing name in Scottish distilling’s modern history. The original distillery, located in the village of Brora, was closed and a new one built right next door in 1968. Then the original Clynelish was reopened the very next year and renamed for the village. “Clynelish I/Brora” stayed in operation until 1983, and is now known for its periodic releases of expensive, exceptionally old single malt. “Clynelish II” has been in continuous operation since the day it opened, and is a major contributor to Johnnie Walker’s more upscale offerings.
Appropriately enough, in the glass the liquid has a rich apple juice-gold coloring. The nose has a quality I would describe as bridging the gap between apple pie and apple cake. Crisp apples and a toasty almond streak combine with a dash of cinnamon, a tinge of wood, and a buttery texture to make this a real treat to sniff at.
That thick texture carries into the mouthfeel, whereas the flavor goes from apple desert material into the territory of apple breakfast. That defining apple flavor mixes with a grain and cereal aspect, sweetened with honey and with notes of leathery wood and tobacco, hitting that sensory note of an old tobacco barn just right. No need to add a few drops of water here. In my book, this stuff is just right as is.
The finish has a certain earthy character to it, and a cinnamon spice afterglow that starts bright and fades out rapidly.
Poking around revealed some serious price range for this Wemyss offering. After converting the currency, I have seen it for between $93 and $125 with online retailers.