Giacconi, Casari, Giuliani, Begnoni, Righi, Ambrosio… all famous Italian whisky collectors. Valentino Zagatti is one of them.
He bought his first bottle (a Gilbey’s Spey Royal) in June 1958. To celebrate 50 years of collecting, he selected a couple of casks from Linkwood, Springbank, Glenlivet, Mortlach and Caol Ila bottled by High Spirits.
In this series there’s also this 16 years old Clynelish, bottled from an obviously very active oloroso sherry cask. I opened this bottle a couple of months ago with some whisky friends, and the first thing that struck us was a slightly sulphury smell. While I fully agreed at that time, a little airing seems to have changed it for the better – I can’t find any sulphur now.
Clynelish 16 yo 1991 (46%, High Spirits 2008, Valentino Zagatti’s Personal Choice)
Very very dark. Nose: over the top sherry, dry and herbal with notes of dried fruits, coffee, walnut liqueur, crushed pecan nuts and a quite some wood. The sulphur has disappeared, but there are still traces of matchsticks and ashes to be found, which I don’t find disturbing. Water brings out orange peel and nice apricot aromas. A slightly exaggerated nose.
Mouth: really dry. It starts on cold coffee flavours, then shows very dark chocolate and finally some Campari and Seville oranges. Quite nutty and a little tannic as well. This is an Octomore amongst heavy sherry bottlings.
Finish: long, nutty, bitterish and slightly smokey.
Apart from the sulphur story, this could have been any whisky, as it’s 95% sherry influence and 5% Clynelish. Sherry extremism, I would say, which is a pity if you know the true character of young Clynelish.
Around € 80.
ps/ If you want this kind of profile, why not buy actual dry oloroso or Palo Cortado sherry? Lustau Don Nuño or the 30 year-old Gonzalez Byass Apostoles (both € 20-25) are well worth it.