I have only reviewed three Deanstons before this one and only one of those made it into the 80s. That was this 15 yo bottled for Whiskybase’s Archives label. The only official Deanston I’ve reviewed—the 12 yo—had me making analogies to Gerard Butler. But that was more than seven years ago. This Deanston 18 wasn’t even part of the distillery’s portfolio then, having been added to it in 2015. It’s fairly unusual in that it’s a bourbon cask finish. No, it wasn’t matured in sherry first; instead it started out in second-fill bourbon casks and was finished in first-fill bourbon casks. For how long I don’t know and I don’t know what I make of the idea: why not just vat second-fill and first-fill casks? Is it just a gimmick? Or is there precedent for this kind of thing? At any rate, I’m hoping this will be my second Deanston to crack the 80 point barrier. Let’s see if that proves to be the case. It’s actually available in Minnesota—though not cheap at $130 before tax—and so it’s not an academic question. Continue reading
On Wednesday I had a review of an 11 yo Orkney/Highland Park bottled at a ludicrous strength of 63.7%. Here now is a review of an 11 yo Deanston bottled at an even more ludicrous strength of 64.7%. I have to admit I have never understood the appeal of whisky bottled at such strengths—they are almost always too hot, in my experience, and there is not one that I have not found improved radically by bringing it down closer to 55% or less. This is also true of bourbon, a category in which you see these strengths more often, and whose aficionados tend to be more committed to drinking at full strength. To each their own, I suppose, but my recent experiences of young, high strength Scotch whisky is beginning to make me wonder if bottlers are not making a bet that a very high strength may be a selling point in and of itself; a sort of whisky machismo mixed in with notions of cask strength “purity”. Anyway, let’s see what this is like. Continue reading
I’ve said rude things about the Deanston 12—I believe I may have compared it to Gerard Butler. That is also the only Deanston I’ve ever had and so I’m curious to see how representative an experience that was. This, of course, is a single cask (a bourbon hogshead) bottled by Whiskybase for their Archives label.
I’ve had very good luck with Whiskybase’s selections and so I’m hopeful this will be much better than the official bottle. And I’m very grateful for their samples program which allows one to make considered choices*. Though, of course, given the frenzy in the whisky world it’s rarely the case that a bottle you’re interested in will still be available after you’ve tasted the sample. This, however, seems to have been a “controversial” selection, with scores all over the map on Whiskybase, and there are still quite a few bottles available. Is one of those in my future? Let’s see.
*They do seem to have fewer and fewer samples available of late, and fewer interesting ones.
I know nothing about Deanston. I even had to look up which region it’s in (the Highlands). It’s owned by the same group that owns Bunnahabhain and Tobermory/Ledaig and is one of a few distilleries that has never been listed as anyone’s favourite (the most Serge has ever given a Deanston is 82 points). In fact, I’m not sure it has an identity or a style as such that I’ve ever read or heard anyone talking about. But somehow it chugs on; if it were an action film star it would be Gerard Butler. Anyway, now that I’ve spent all this time insulting the distillery maybe it’s time I actually taste this 12 yo (which along with the rest of the group’s whiskies got upgraded to 46.3% abv and no chill filtering a few years ago).
Deanston 12 (46.3%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Nothing at all at first and then a sour, yeasty note. After a while, nothing at all and a sour yeasty note. This must be what people who interact with Gerard Butler experience. After a bit the yeasty thing recedes and there’s now some dry, acidic white winey notes and wait, is that acetone? This may be the first time that I’ve marked the presence of acetone as a positive development (not because I like it here, but because something happened). After a lot of time some of that lime and maltiness from the palate make themselves known on the nose. No real change with a drop or two of water. Continue reading