One of the big surprises of last Milan Whisky Festival was the introduction to a brand new Italian independent bottler, Valinch & Mallet! Two chaps, Davide Romano (that could be the youngest bottler around) and Fabio Ermoli, ‘smooth operator’ of whisky world, with his unmistakable moustaches. The two gathered their forces to launch an ambitious brand: only cask strength single casks, that must always distinguish for some unique characters – we wonder how many bottlers would ever say the contrary? We’re inquisitive folks, and in the next days we’ll try and taste all of their first bottlings – today we’ll start with a distillery that has a special place in our hearts: if you fail with an 18 yo bourbon matured Clynelish, you know we won’t trust you anymore.
N: 54% abv and no hint of alcohol. There’s a fabulous aromatic intensity, ranging from fruity to creamy… There’s a lot of vanilla custard, with pastry and biscuits notes (shortbread, but also cereal biscuits); on the other hand, a paranormal fruity intensity hits hard: juicy peaches, sweet apples, bananas and a clear and iridescent citrus note, undecided to be fresh lemon or a ripe, sweet orange. But it ain’t all here: after this first wall there’s a fat spirit, unruly towards the cask tyranny, with fierce and nuanced wax, slighlty mineral, with a very clean peat. Maybe some ginger? After a while, some hay, warm under the sun, shows up.
F: as we could easily expect, the intensity here is crazy and doesn’t make any prisoners; and such a body, such a texture… We start with a wall of sweet oranges and the Clynelish hallmark, in great ascent compared to the nose: waxiness, mineral notes, peat, some ginger root… Everything very intense but suave at the same time. That’s it? Nope, not at all: a flamboyant yellow fruit is back (sweet, ripe peaches, but also some dried coconut). In a flash: a short pastry with custard and a piece of orange. All this, with veins of peat…
F: …that cleans up the finish, after an elegant display of citrus, coconut and bananas.
If that’s the start, well, that’s a pretty good start! We love Clynelish, and rarely we had a modest one – not to say bad – but this is a really convincing bottle. Intense, it manages to marry the active wood to a distillate that just can’t be tamed, never: as a first try, it was amazing. 92/100, kudos to you Fabio and Davide! Oh well, the labels are really nice and arty – ok, now you should receive our bank account number, you know what to do 🙂
Recommended soundtrack: Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O – Five seconds to midnight.