You have to be pretty dedicated to adventure to the Clynelish distillery. It's Scotland's second most northerly whisky-making plant and one of the farthest from an airport. Partly because of this it tends to get overlooked, which is a shame because its whiskies are complex and full of character. The current distillery is less than forty years old; another distillery on the site, also known as Clynelish, was closed in 1983 and its remaining stocks are now known as Brora.

Traditionalists speak in glowing terms of Brora, but the new boy has come into his own. A version of Clynelish has been included in Diageo's Rare Malts collection, and the standard fourteen-year-old is a complex, easy-to-drink beauty. The folks at the distillery will tell you it's touched with gold because the water used to make it flows over ground where gold has been found and where you can still pan for the rare metal. But what truly sets Clynelish apart from all other malts is its oiliness: The distillery deliberately doesn't clean out the waxy deposits that build up in the receiving tanks. It sounds horrible, doesn't it?But it makes for a distinctive platform that any Johnnie Walker fan would recognize—for Clynelish is the building-block malt for that great blend.

If You Go

The Clynelish Distillery (011-44/1408-621-444) is located fifty-nine miles up the A9 from Inverness in Brora, Sutherland. Tours are available Monday–Friday 9:30–4:30 through October; Tuesday–Thursday 9:30–4 in winter. In town is the Brora Golf Club (011-44/1408-621-417,, a classic Scottish links course (James Braid, 1891) that welcomes visitors.