Thanks to /u/devoz for this sample.
Amongst my whisky group there’s no one you would call a fan of Deanston. Rather you’d point out we’re all quite Deanston intolerant. Not quite to a level of the Deanston racist but when Deanston is poured it’s followed by the phrase “this is one of the good ones”.
So when one of us (Devoz) decided to buy Deanston 13 2006 Cream Sherry Finish, we all had a look on our faces. And that look was judgement, because we’re all a bunch of judgemental small people.
He had a legit reason though: He owed the mob money… no, wait, that was a different thing. In this case he had not found a whisky that had been finished with Cream Sherry casks.
Frankly I can’t disagree with that. Though I’m not a big sherry drinker, as I’m not currently living in the early 19th century and Spanish or 90-years-old, female, and living in the UK at the moment. Sorry if that throws off your view of me.
Cream Sherry is Oloroso that has gone through a process of oxidative aging and then blended with some Pedro Ximénez. So they allow a certain amount of air to impact the sherry that’s controlled by the winemaker. There’s a folklore about some woman giving it the name because one was called milk and this one was called cream but let’s ignore that because it’s probably made up.
So we have sweeter than normal sherry that’s a mix of Oloroso and PX and then we got rid of that and took some ex-Bourbon Deanston and finished it with that barrel.
Does it work? We didn’t know. So he took the bullet (or the… candy? Is candy the opposite of bullets?) for us.
Let’s see what he got, shall we?
Price: $140 CAD
Cask Type: Bourbon then a Cream Sherry Finish
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Strawberry, nutty, licorice, brown sugar, macerated strawberries
There’s an immediate fruity, spicy, nutty, and sherry based nose. Nothing about this screams “hey, Deanston is in here”. If the nose was Lassie, Timmy’s not getting out of the well anytime soon.
That said it’s not rough or anything. Very sweet. Reminds me of diner desserts that are too sweet at times. Though still well put together. Again, like diner desserts (when the diner is worth your time)
Taste: Apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, bar nuts, ash
There we go, fruity, spice, tastes like a sherried whisky versus the nose, which was all sherry.
That said it’s a bit simple, there’s aspects with rough edges (looking at that ashy flavour) and doesn’t really hint that the ex-Bourbon or spirit is doing anything subtle. It’s all gas, no brakes, and barely making left hand turns.
Finish: Cinnamon, ash, woody, mushrooms, hazelnut, kola nuts, cherry
Again rough. Lots of earth and wood, some nutty/kola notes, and a bit of fruit.
Conclusion: Odd, seems there’s a reason you don’t find too many cream sherry finished whiskies. Had some simpler elements that I would have been happier with if given time to become more complex. Unique, interesting, but just not totally my thing.
So I can’t really say what the Cream Sherry is doing 100%, because this is the first one I’ve had. What I can say is the nose is all sherry notes, the taste and finish are rougher notes with aspects of the sherry attempting to round it out. The attempt is welcome. The uniqueness is welcome. Just didn’t work for me.
Now I gotta find a fully matured cream sherry one to see the difference.
Scotch review #1425, Highland review #228, Whisky Network review #2105