“Deanston? Yeah, I’m good”
So that was me, probably a year ago (does time mean anything anymore?). I wasn’t what some would say “up” on Deanston. I knew of it. I had a few of the offerings, typically poured to me at random bars/pubs or from friends. And I wasn’t wowed.
So bias time: The Highland region is probably my least favourite Scotch region. I adore a good Lowland, I’m a peat head through and through, Speyside has so many whiskies that I can’t really say I hate or love them, and the Islands pop up some fun things every now and then.
But Highlands? I’m basically a dick to them. Before you start writing angry comments or pointing out that it goes against my own rule of never writing off a distillery or showing me all the great reviews I’ve done of Highland region whiskies, wait. I’m not turning down reviewing Highlands. My brain just… kinda skips them.
Lucky for me, I recently had two whisky friends who poured me Deanstons to expand my horizons. So thanks to /u/ScotchGuyTO and /u/Devoz for sharing a dram of cask strength Deanstons, each in wine casks (different each time) and each to give me an idea of why I should or should not be drinking more Deanston.
Let’s see how they did, shall we?
Deanston 10 2008 Signatory Cask Strength Collection
Price: € 114
Cask type: 1st Fill Sherry Butt
Cask Number: 900074
Number of bottles 597
Colour: 5YR 5/8
Nose: Cherry, white peach, brown sugar, butter, cashew
Holy Jeez Rocket Fuel ma! Once my nose hairs grow back, I immediately get some strong sugar and nutty/buttery notes. And I think I’m pregnant now, but with a diesel truck.
Fruity and sweet. Nothing is subtle. Everything is in caps and wingdings.
Taste: Cinnamon, brown sugar cookies, carrot, cocoa, raisin
Hot, but more spice than Caliente, with spice growing in complexity. Starts off with the cinnamon challenge but ends with grandma’s cookies. I hope a visit to your nan wasn’t like this, otherwise, I’m gonna call the cops.
Water brings out sweeter earth notes and rich caramels from the sherry. Or from pure plutonium, still trying to figure it out.
Finish: Hay, cherry, heat, pineapple, papaya, sourdough, oak, lemon pith
Farmy, heat forward, fruity, bready and bitter finish. Hits you with everything it can and ends off a cliff, flying pretty far. Yeast, bready, fruit, tropical, bitter, the whole shebang.
Conclusion: Rocket fuel sugar ride. I reviewed another whisky that was quite hot, and it’s interesting to have these side by side: The other one kept having moments of heat pop up and detracting from it. This burnt through the heat and was complex. It handled water well. It was crazy.
Could I have more of this in one sitting? Not without losing consciousness I couldn’t. That’s the main thing about this dram: It’s the last dram of the day/night. Some may argue it’s the only dram of the night. There’s no subtlety at all. It’s all gas no breaks. It’s listening to nothing but Dragonforce while having sex. Eventually, you’re going to get tired and pass out.
Deanston 9 2008 Red Wine Matured
Cask Type: Bordeaux Red Wine Cask
Colour: 10R 3/10
Nose: Brown sugar, chlorine, oak, nectarine, plum
Nice brown sugar, and… wow, that’s a public pool. But a clean one. You know, in the nice part of town where people are paid to ensure it doesn’t smell of urine.
Nice fruit too. No urine there either.
Taste: Muscovado sugar, oak, orange, anise, raspberry jam
Strong, big brown sugar note. Reminds me of having a coffee, back when I a) put sugar in my coffee and b) added Bailey’s to it because I was a university student and binge drinking was super cool (hint: it’s not).
Good mix of spice, fruit, richness with water. Don’t feel like the red wine cask is taking over.
Finish: Plum, brown sugar, oak, lemon squares, butter
And more brown sugar. We make lemon squares, but of all the squares they’re kinda the least wanted, right? Like, I enjoy a lemon square, just I’d rather any other square ever instead.
Less fruit, less going on here.
Conclusion: Strong brown sugar-filled dram. It’s certainly a nice whisky to sip on. Kudos for releasing it at cask strength and letting people have a cheap, young, good whisky.
And that’s really what it is. It’s not going to wow you above it’s age, but the cask strength nature certainly helps the flavours go the distance. Easily better than a lot of the entry level drams out there, and a better spot on your shelf for the money.
Scotch review #1330, Highland review #215-6, Whisky Network review #1991-2