I was in Scotland on holiday during February 2016 and the good folks of Deanston distillery spotted my tweets about it and kindly suggested I swung by on my way home (as I was going to be driving close by), because they had some goodies for me.
Sure enough I eagerly stopped by and goodies were indeed waiting, thanks guys! Whilst there we stopped for a fantastic lunch at their Coffee Bothy, followed by a 5 minute flying tour to refresh my memory of the distillery and to get a couple of quick pictures. As always when visiting, you’re faced with a warming welcome plus plenty of goodies in the distillery shop to make your trip really worth it; exclusive distillery bottlings and hand-fills galore.
So let’s take a look at the variety of Deanston’s newest goodies that I was furnished with… We’ll take a look at their new 15yo Organic, 18yo Batch 2, 20yo Oloroso, 2008 Sherry Oak, and Fill Your Own 11yo… The first thing to note is the nice variation on colours, Deanston don’t chillfilter, and don’t colour their whisky, always a good start…
Deanston 15 Year Old – Organic – 46.3% ABV
Info: Certified Organic by the Organic Food Federation and filled into new (organic) oak barrels. Batch 1.
Colour: Clear, bright straw. Big oily legs, fab stuff.
Nose: Similar to the colour, the nose is kind of clear and bright as well. Light summery barley notes, mushed pears, very light and gentle oaks.
Palate: At first similarly light on the palate, but hold it for a little and it turns warm and fairly spiced. It’s nicely sweet with those spiced summer fruits there. Very oily.
Finish: The spices stay around and turn more fragrant, leaving a very long, slightly fragrant flavour behind.
Thoughts: A rather beautiful, light summery style of whisky with enough age to give it some depth and mellowness along with cask char puffs.
Available: Available in Germany and through global travel retail (i.e. airports). RRP £80.
Deanston 18 Year Old – Batch 2 – 46.3% ABV
Info: Aged in hogshead casks then finished in first fill Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Batch 2 released Nov. 2015.
Colour: Full summery gold, nice and natural.
Nose: Quite a sweet nose with a damp dunnage moss tone on it along with sweet vanilla, corn and gentle oaks. It’s mature and well balanced, showing qualities of good ageing.
Palate: It’s thick and oily; easy going and gentle with a pinch of spices and subtle but fresh tropical tones. Gentle old buttery barley notes give a sweet, slightly dusty edge.
Finish: It’s sweet, long and gentle. Nicely warming on the chest with just hints of oak tannin that back it all nicely.
Thoughts: A really likable, easy older malt, full of quality and joy. It’s a dram to really enjoy of an evening without it being too complicated.
Available: Master of Malt – £61.96 (unclear if that’s Batch 1 or Batch 2)
Deanston 20 Year Old – Oloroso Cask – 55.3% ABV
Info: Matured for 20 years in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Bottled at cask strength.
Colour: Autumnal deep rusty gold.
Nose: Kind of a metallic edge to a full-on sherried dram. Plenty of deep rich currants and grape pips. After a while a dark chocolatey note comes out.
Palate: As ever, very thick, but fairly up front with sherry spices. It’s deeply layered with autumn and winter berry fruits. A real nuttyness at the back.
Finish: A deeply sherried finish that sticks around for a long time and warms your chest thoroughly.
Thoughts: It’s a deep winter warmer of a dram for sure, one for sherry lovers, but if you’re not a sherry fan then you may find it hard to deal with. Being fully matured in the Oloroso casks makes it feel properly integrated during its maturation, and increasing amounts of flavours come out the more time you spend with it. In this way it’s a rewarding dram; it’s not a quick drinker, so go steady and enjoy it as fully as it’s meant to be.
Available: The Drink Shop – £92.29 (Available 09th Apr 2016)
Deanston 2008 – Sherry Oak Finish – 60.8% ABV
Info: Matured in hogshead casks before being finished in sherry casks. 290 bottles nearly all gone. Distillery only.
Colour: Rusty autumn gold.
Nose: Strong and full of life, careful you don’t sniff this too hard or you’ll hurt your nose with alcohol vapours. Plenty of sherry giving the barley notes a stewed fruit quality, but almost on the savoury side, you could imagine this alongside a Ploughman’s lunch or some such.
Palate: Very thick and oily, nicely warming, but for the ABV it’s quite easily accessed only becoming hot on your tongue after a little while. There’s a definite savoury note here too, one that’s quite enjoyable. It’s a sweet enough whisky for sure, but savoury barley rules the roost.
Finish: The finish is warm to hot, and very long, the sherry elements staying around the longest. There’s a definite honeyed note there too.
Water: A drop helps make the dram that little bit easier to drink because of the lower ABV, and helps to bring out a more creamy side to the dram, and more oaky hints, try it!
Thoughts: I wasn’t expecting to be too fond of this, I don’t know why not, but it’s a whisky that really really grows on you. There’s raw barley power with sweet, yet savoury sherry to keep it interesting. Not quite a sherry monster, something just slightly different to that. This is 7 to 8 years old, it’s young… I didn’t really notice that, it kept it really interesting!
Extra: Thanks to WhiskyRover for the pic, I didn’t think to take one! His review is here.
Available: Distillery Only. £65.
Deanston – Fill Your Own – 11 Year Old – Amontillado Finish – 60.1% ABV
Info: This dram was the Fill Your Own when I was there. When you go there, you may find it’s changed!
Colour: Ripe straw, quite light in colour really.
Nose: Full of whisky goodness, young to middle aged barley malt spirit mixed with very gentle sherry tones giving handfuls of nuts on the nose along with some autumn fruits.
Palate: As ever very thick on the tongue with oils. It’s a gently building heat to something that’s fairly hot after a while due to the high abv. It’s quite sweet, possibly slightly wood lead, but not to the point where it’s overly oaked.
Finish: Hot and long, fairly spiced with enjoyable after tones that really stick around.
Water: It’s a bit hot without, so try adding a drop, it totally sweetens it up and makes it much more approachable, leaving enough spices and oils to keep it interesting.
Thoughts: Not so far away from the 2008 above, the 2008 being my preference even though it’s younger. That said, check the Fill Your Own yourself as it’ll no doubt have changed from my review of this one. I remember trying a previous one that was so overly sherried I just couldn’t get on with it at all, this one is way better in that regard, it’s great!
Extra: Thanks to whiskyauctioneer for the representative picture, I didn’t take one!
Available: Distillery Only. Price may vary depending on what casks is currently on.
Overall Thoughts: Shortest review when re-reading appears to be the 18yo… don’t take that as a bad sign, that’s probably my favourite dram out of all the above, it’s “nice”, it’s easy going and mellow, just what you want when you’re watching a good TV programme. Second favourite, the young 2008, it’s a really interesting (in a good way) whisky! But whatever my preference there, they’re all good, Deanston makes excellent drams.
Many thanks to Deanston for the samples, do look out their goodies, you won’t be disappointed.