The original Clynelish distillery was built in 1819, adjacent to the present operational Clynelish distillery which was built in 1967. The distillery was not a success in its early years. It only began to build a reputation in the late 19th century when blenders Ainslie & Heilbron bought it in partnership with John Risk. By the end of the 20th century it had become the most highly-priced single malt on a trade basis.
Synonymous with its sister distillery, Brora, which was built adjacent, Clynelish utilises unpeated barley whereas Brora utilises unpeated, low-peated and heavily peated barley.
Today Clynelish enjoys cult status as distinctly unique: a rarity in that it produces a ‘waxy’ new-make spirit – think waxed jacket or waxy honeycomb; Brora previously mothballed is due to be rebuilt by current owners, Diageo. The waxy style of Clynelish is a quirk of build-up of oils (that are wax-like, oddly enough) found within the feints receiver. Interaction with this build-up transforms a spirit that should (on paper) be fruit-forward into one with a distinct waxiness. Not too dissimilar to Deanston Distillery.