Deanston Variety Show

Recently, a Deanston rep came to town, and I had a couple drams from their core line of products. Here are my thoughts.

For some reference, Deanston was founded in 1966 in a town previously known for textile manufacture. They claim to be one of the greenest, if not the greenest, distilleries in Scotland. They subsist entirely on sustainable energy, and sell excess energy they produce back to the grid. They have the largest mash tun of any distillery currently in operation.

About 20% of their produced spirit is used for their single malt releases and 80% goes out the door to be a blend component for brands owned by Diageo and William Grant & Sons. Their recent dive into the single malt market comes with a promise to never filter or color, and they recently boosted their ABV floor from 43% ABV to 46-ish% ABV.

Let’s dive in.

Review #938 | Scotch Review #309 – Deanston Virgin Oak

The Schtick: This is a $40ish dollar offering from Deanston that takes a couple whiskeys and blends them and finishes them for 9 months in new, charred oak (virgin oak) casks. It is unfiltered and has no added color.

Distiller: Deanston

Bottler: Deanston

ABV: 46.3% ABV

Age: NAS

Nose: Bread and honey. Lemon zest. Ethanol, and a good bit of it. Yeasty and bread-y. Little bit of wood here, but it smells like younger, greener, wood rather than bold, tannic, oak.

Taste: Thin to medium mouth feel. Apples, pears and light pepper and sulfur. No peat. There is a lot more wood here on the palate, but still shying towards those younger wood notes rather than big, bold, dry, tannic oak. A bit of heat here, and a bit more than I’d like.

Finish: Short to medium in length, but still pretty hot, all things considered. Light straw and honey, vanilla and a good pepper character. Light sulfur returns, as does some apple and pear body.

Overall: This wasn’t bad, but I think it was a bit younger than it could be, and a bit hotter than it should be. The rep made it clear this is one of their more expensive offerings to make, due to the virgin oak finish, so I think it would have been wise of them to put slightly older spirit in the finishing casks, as most of my gripes seem to come from a youthful spirit, and not a bad finish.

Thanks for reading!

Rank: 4

Review #939 | Scotch Review #310 – Deanston 12yr

The Schtick: This is a 12 year old single malt from Deanston, aged entirely in ex-bourbon casks sourced from Heaven Hill in Kentucky, USA. It is unfiltered and has no added color.

Distiller: Deanston

Bottler: Deanston

ABV: 46.3% ABV

Age: 12 Years

Nose: Rich, woody and oaky. Lots of fresh baked bread and apples. Some rich vanilla and honey. No ethanol here.

Taste: Medium mouth feel, much less ethanol than the NAS. Lots of caramel, brown sugar, apples and pears. Much richer, but still similar. A definite improvement.

Finish: Short to medium in length, but lots of nice honey, caramel, vanilla and a good apple pie note, coming from a combination of apples, clove and fresh baked bread.

Overall: This was definitely an improvement on the NAS, and I enjoyed the flavor profile that Deanston is bringing with this one. It wasn’t the most exciting, or solid, thing I’ve ever drank, but it successfully ironed out some flaws and brought a nice sweet, bready and fruity profile to the table and I enjoyed it for that.

Thanks for reading!

Rank: 5

Review #940 | Scotch Review #311 – Deanston 15yr Organic

The Schtick: This release is made using all organic constituents and also by aging in re-charred casks. Deanston also modifies the ratio of wort : yeast here on this one, by adding less wort to the same amount of yeast.

Distiller: Deanston

Bottler: Deanston

ABV: 46.3% ABV

Age: 15 Years

Nose: Really prominent caramel here. Yeasty, and sweet, but at the cost of those fruits in the nose. No ethanol. Lots and lots of caramel, brown sugar, rich nougat, and some crisp vanilla notes.

Taste: Medium mouth feel with no heat. Lots more caramel here still, creme brulee. Vanilla bean. There isn’t a ton of diversity, but this palate is much more dessert focused than the other two.

Finish: Mild, short to medium in length. Apples make an appearance here, as does some lemon bar. This pairs nicely with some caramel, vanilla bean and nougat.

Overall: This whiskey is so reminiscent of an apple crisp with a dallop of ice cream it is unreal. Really unique, pretty vibrant, and the growth from nose to finish is really enjoyable.

Thanks for reading!

Rank: 5

Review #941 | Scotch Review #312 – Deanston 9yr Bordeaux Cask

The Schtick: This is an expression from Deanston that is barreled and aged entire in Bordeaux wine casks. Unfortunately, the provenance of these casks is a secret tightly kept, as the barrel heads are sanded down before arrival. Either way, it is bottled at cask strength, is unfiltered and has no added coloring. It is bottled at 58.7% ABV and has a pretty wine indicative hue to it.

Distiller: Deanston

Bottler: Deanston

ABV: 58.7% ABV

Age: 9 Years

Distilled: 2008

Bottled: 2017

Nose: Stewed fruits, and very vibrantly so. Rich currant and caramel, black berry and raspberry jam. Light tobacco, mildly earthy and nice pepper gives the nose a nice, rich, structure.

Taste: Medium to thick mouth feel. Rich red berries, mingles well with honey, caramel and lingonberry. Currants, blackberry, date fruit, cranberry. The fruit game is strong here, and leans in the berry and is a little crisper than some other wine finishes. The Bordeaux makes a nice showing here, and doesn’t feel too much like a super syrupy sherry maturation.

Finish: Medium to long, tobacco and Dole fruit syrupy. Light, effervescent and lots of pepper blends with one last showing of those stewed fruits and honey.

Overall: I really enjoyed this and thought that it was unique, and well produced. The Bordeaux added a nice dimension to their more fruity / caramel forward base spirit and I think that 9 years was a good age to bottle at. I’d love to see what 6 more years does though, and hope they bottle this same spirit at 15 years, or 18 years, if they get a chance. For science!

Thanks for reading!

Rank: 6

Some Overall Thoughts:

All in all, I like what Deanston is doing. I think ~46% ABV is entirely acceptable for scotch, and I’m happy to see them hitting that number. I enjoyed the 12, 15yr Organic and the 9yr Bordeaux. I think the NAS needs work. That’s a pretty good ratio of to hit and miss, in my opinion.

Some things I’d like to see from them in the future is some more cask finishing (rum, port, some PX, a Madeira) and I would also like to see more cask strength releases. Their prices trend a hair high, but are by no means unreasonable, or outliers in their specific classes. The fact that the Bordeaux is Cask Strength leads me to believe they intend to release more, and are waiting for stock to mature and pass QC.

Overall, good stuff. Andrew was fun and informative. I give Deanston a check on a {check minus, check, check plus} scale and will be looking forward to seeing how they progress in producing, selling and branding their OB single malt line.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.