On a recent trip back to Scotland I managed to squeeze a quick visit to Glengoyne into my crazy schedule and as always it was a pleasure, but I was also keen to go somewhere I had never been. Luckily for me Deanston was not too far from where I was based for the week and despite the fact I have probably driven past the end of the road thousands of times before, this would be my first “official” visit. The visitor center only opened last year though so I can be forgiven. I wrote before about the distillery from my research and reviewed the 12 Year old here but this time I wanted to have a look around and get hold of some of the distillery releases.
The distillery might not be in the running for “prettiest” in Scotland, but just like a bottle of whisky, it’s whats inside that counts and not only is the story of Deanston interesting, but the welcome is well worth seeking out. The visitor center is recently opened and it is clear to see that everyone involved is very proud indeed. Being met by Peter Semple, visitors and facilities manager we avoided the normal tour and headed straight for the heart of the distillery, stopping off prior to get an insight into the social history of the once cotton mill turned whisky distillery.
There were two particular whiskies that I had heard were available from the distillery which are not seen that often and I was keen to sit down with Peter and run through them. The first being a Spanish Oak release and the second, a 1974 bottling which, as it is the year of my birth is always of interest to me. Sadly, Peters hospitality did not stretch as far as to donate a bottle to my birthday fund, but at £800 a bottle, you cant blame him.
The first to review was the Spanish Oak- a 19 year old whisky matured first in ex American Bourbon cask for 11 years before spending a further 8 year in Spanish cask, namely Gonzalez Byass Lapanto brandy cask. This solera matured brandy is of 15 years or older and is the only brandy produced in Jerez.
Deanston Single Malt Scotch Whisky “Spanish Oak”
19 years old
Cask Strength 57.4% abv
Appearance: Bright copper and warm gold
Nose: Dark skinned fruit and light linseed oil start the proceedings with a drying note of struck match in the background. Brandy butter over red apple core with warming spices of mace, clove and cinnamon. Rich honey becomes toffee like but remains in check with a base of forest fruit compote.
Palate: Grippy at first, a teardrop of water helped to calm the assertive spice and phosphorous elements which became plummy and sweet like stewed fruits of prune, blackcurrant and cherry pie. An earthy spice with sweetness such as liquorice root maintained balance.
Finish: Earthy spice of sweet liquorice root takes hold with blackcurrants on dry toast to the end.
Deanston Single Malt Scotch Whisky 1974
37 years old
Ex Olorosso Sherry Cask
Appearance: Polished bronze and rose gold
Nose: Chicory, coffee essence and toffee begin this rich, aromatic nose before baked apple with molasses drizzle come in. The fruity element remains but becomes deeper and turns to blackcurrant, cassis, cherry and honey. Towards the end or the lingering scent, a lifting waft of tea-tree honey helps balance the richness.
Palate: A bold start with gripping spices and edgy mineral notes before turning sweet with baked apple. It takes a little time to calm and allow the honey and toffee element to speak for a short while before the spices run riot again. Oily, tingling and spiking throughout the fruity mid palate this could be seen as a challenging whisky perhaps, but in a great way. Fruit, nut, honey and spice- its all in there.
Finish: Turning nutty with a slightly tarry note with coffee bitter edge. The lingering palate never seems to fade. Outstanding.
Summary: If the friendliness of this particularly “new” distillery wasn’t enough to make you stop and say hello- then both these drams waiting for you at the end will surely clinch it. Both offering up something totally different between them and a far cry from the standard Deanston 12 year old and the house style we might expect. I certainly loved both of them and hope Peter remembers my birthday on July 30th