The original distillery was built in 1819 , adjacent to the new Clynelish. The original Clynelish closed in the year 1967 as the new Clynelish distillery had been built. Confusingly the original distillery was reopened in May 1969 and until July 1973 produced a heavily peated whisky to supply for blending; this was done to cover a shortage of Islay whisky caused by a drought on the island (while taking the Manager's Tour of the distillery in September 2015, I was told that this was due to the Caol Ila distillery being re-built from scratch, and therefore to compensate the lack of Caol Ila for blending during a couple of years). The old distillery was renamed Brora Distillery and production of a peated spirit continued until 1983. Brora whisky is now one of the most rare and desired whiskies in the world, costing around one thousand pounds a bottle.
Clynelish has had a strong connection with Johnnie Walker blended whisky for many years. Around 95% of the spirit is used in Johnnie Walker, Most commonly found in the Gold Label Reserve