Head to Head #2: Clynelish 14 vs Fujisanroku

Though being the newest member to the Sumo and Stogies clan, ol’ Dick certainly isn’t a novice when it comes to appreciating the finer points of a dram. Perhaps shocked isn’t the right word, but I was certainly a little taken back at how he keenly called into question my abilities to distinguish between a cheap Japanese disinfectant (Nikka Black Clear) and the superior Glenlivet! (check the battle here). Aye, Dick Montana is one cheeky squire!

So I thought I would get him back by playing him at his own game: Head to Head. Yes, I bring you the second in our series of whiskey comparisons. First let me introduce the whiskies and why I chose them:

Glass # 1) Clynelish 14yr Coastal Highland Single Malt, 46% ABV. Price – around $50
Glass #2) Fujisanroku 50 ° (富士山麓). A blended whiskey out of Kirin Distillery, 50% ABV. Price – around $10

Clynelish is a relatively new love of mine with its bold sea salt taste. However, it also boasts a hefty price, which makes it difficult to enjoy regularly. After a while without my Clyneish fix, I stumbled upon the Fujisanroku and thought “damn! This could be a nice cheap alternative to the Clynelish”. Now, with about two months apart between tastes, I may be forgiven for possibly seeing similarities where there were none. But at least this gave good grounds for enticing this debate. Let’s see how Montana handles himself.

Remember at this point, good ol’ Dick has no idea which whiskys are in glasses 1 and 2…

Dick Montana-

#1 is certainly lighter. To an untrained eye, the #1 might look like the inferior spirit as one normally expect the colour to develop with age. However from my experience this isn’t necessarily the case – take an ardbeg or an octomore (review); they have almost no colour, but the peat could kill you! Also, I think we were both a little shocked at the last head to head! So at this point, I reckon 1 is the Clynelish, and 2 the Fujisan.


1) I’m getting big alc. Sea salt, not much fruit and it’s a little floral. Almost grassy and a hint of wood (still assuming he means the nose here, haha).

2) Completely different! It’s sweet with strong licorice notes. I’m thinking Christmas cake, perhaps a little honey. Zero peat and smoke.

Taste (neat)
He starts with no. 2

#2) Only a slight alcohol taste up front. Kinda mild, but with character. When I swallow, it’s definitely complex. The finish is the best thing about this. Sweet licorice, tongue numbing and a drier finish. My current judgement, it’s decent. But perhaps too complex as a finish, the flavours explode in all directions and I feel like a high alcohol content is being used to mask some big imperfections. (Takes another gulp) A touch of sherry then – Bam! with a strong hit of liquorice in my balls, it’s almost like a bourbon, and as you know, I am not a big fan of bourbon.

#1) On the 2nd nose, it’s a little sweeter (as me dad always says, the second is always a little sweeter than the first). Sweet honey tongue. Comparatively smoother going down and not as dry. In fact, it has an oily mouth feel. Salt taste, with a good perfect burn that is not as stingy. Slighty fruit, salt, wood… I wanna say salty molasses – yet with fresh pears?

So for the verdict. I would say no.1 is the Clynelish, and no. 2 is the Fujisan, and I’m about 75% certain. Number two is a lot harder to go down, and too complex, whereas one is a lot more accessible to its flavours.

Well, there you go – he’s right! Was hoping I would catch him out, but there’s always the next round.

Feeling somewhat jealous, I of course couldn’t go by without having a tipple
meself. Once Dick mentioned a bourbon flavor in the Kirin, I completely fell into agreement. However, I didn’t get any of the strong liquorice taste that he was ranting about.  As for the Clynelish, the only thing I would add to Monatana’s assessment is a sort of ‘salt toffee’ hint to the nose and that the sea-salt of this dram allows you to picture, taste, and imagine the coastal landscape at which this whiskey was distilled…

Stay tuned for our next Head to Head- Talisker 10 Y.O. vs. Tory’s Blended Whisky.

L. Bertrum, D Montana

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