The true reason for the photography ban inside the big group's distilleries (Diageo, Chivas, LVHM) is quite simple: A distillery tour takes significantly longer if the visitors are allowed to take pictures (or as a manager puts it "it is like herding cats when they are looking for the best shot"). And the resulting lower visitor throughput during peak times limits the profit of the visitor centre...
Nonetheless I like the highly explosive Clynelish stuff very much and I am in the mood of checking two (roughly) 17-year old independent bottlings at the drinking strength of 46% abv against each other: The 1997 Wemyss "Bench with a Sea View" (WY, WB id 58805) versus this 1996 Gordon&MacPhail "Connoisseurs Choice" (GM).
These are another two excellent showcases of this great (but unfortunately highly explosive) distillery. While the GM is a rather simple but very enjoyable dram the "Bench with a Sea View" is both highly interesting to explore and dangerously quaffable. And both were offered at an okayish price point: I bought the GM for 70 Euro in March, 2015 and the Wemyss for 69 Euro in October, 2015.
The Wemyss is one shade darker at old gold than the GM at jonquiripe corn. The GM shows a texture of late slow legs with fat sticky tears and the WY is basically the same. Both promise a good mouthfeel and long finish. The WY offers an adorable mix of fruits (coconuts and more), honey and barley sugars together with maritime aromas, all very nicely balanced. The GM is less sweeter but still shows great honey aromas together with nice leathery notes and beeswax. I like the Wemyss more.
The WY is truly multi-layered with waves of citric fruits, ulmo honey, spices and hints of peaty flavours marching slowly over the tongue into the finish. Again very balanced and without any off-note. The later waves offer maritime flavours and some salt too. The GM is a little simplier here on a fruity-malty-chocolatey profile (toffee, raisins, kumquats) that is very quaffable too. But the complexity and harmony of the Wemyss is truly outstanding and it takes this round clearly. Water is not needed on both drams - they are best at the offered drinking strength of 46% abv.
The GM arrives coating and warming on the palate with no distracting moments. The WY is even more coating but has a minor astringent feeling too (metallic) that is not unpleasant at all. I go for a draw on this dimension. Both own a long finish with the WY sticking a little longer to the throat than the GM. The GM again is quite simple but highly enjoyable with some more spices and other wooden flavours that pep it up. The WY shows a more complex mix of flavours and aromas that simply is...great. It is not as powerful as other Clynelish drams but it is delicate and "lecker". No off-notes, no bitterness or drying wood - all fits together as it should be (for a modern dram this is close to perfection). Guess what I like more?