Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3%

Our May 2015 tasting session featured whiskies from three countries – USA, Scotland and Ireland. We found the quality and appeal of this trio extreme from ‘disaster – do yourself a favour and don’t buy!’ (Hudson) to ‘decent but disappointing’ (Deanston) and utter ‘delight’ with “More! Please sir may I have some more!’ (Teeling)

The Scottish whisky was one sampled previously and earlier a favourite of our host. As always, we tasted blind so would not be influenced by anything other than the immediate whisky experience.

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston NAS 46.3% (Whisky Lady)

Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3% 
  • Colour – Light straw
  • Nose – Initially quite fruity with lime and vanilla, as it warms up, has a french lemony sweet aftershave kind of quality  – think Brut! The overall sense even before the 1st sip is that of a young, fresh, delicate whisky. After the 1st sip, whiff of crunchy green apples, nutmeg, strong honey
  • Taste – A fizzy tingly on the tongue, warm yet alas narry a hint of complexity, most found it a bit bland
  • Finish – Limited and sweet
  • Water – Nope! Don’t go there. Even diluting with only a few drops makes it simply too weak and waters down the light nose
  • Immediate reactions “OK but… maybe a good whisky for people who don’t drink whisky.” Ouch! Honestly, while there was nothing wrong with the whisky, it just somehow didn’t quite strike a strong chord. A few more descriptions bandied about were “bland” and “insipid.”
With more time to breath…
  • I used the lacklustre initial impression as an opportunity to see how it would fare after oxidating for 20 – 30 mins or so. Unlike the Nikka Takesturu 17 year or Chichibu French Oak Cask, I strongly suspected the Deanston would not improve with more time to breathe
  • Sure enough, a half hour later found the nose had dramatically changed to a pronounced sour curd – not in a pleasant way – with none of the initial fruity citrus sweet
  • On the palate? Remained decent but yes… bland

Our host shared:

“I first bought Deanston 10 years ago and it was excellent! Then my next bottle was about five years ago and it was so so. This one? (sigh)… Disappointing” 
I was curious about how this compared with our previous Deanston experiences, so I dug out our sampling records:
  • Deanston 46.3% in April 2012 – I missed this tasting session but another member noted how “We liked the bitter chocolate”
  • Deanston 12 year in June 2013 – For this one, we found “Nuanced nose with over ripe fruit, sweet and spicy on the palate, lovely finish with a hint of spice that slowly dissipated. Delightful!”

The label provides no indication of the year the whisky was bottled, so it is difficult to say whether the whisky or our tastes have changed so dramatically over the years. The only detail it does share is that it is finished in virgin oak casks and is un-chill filtered. I suspect the virgin oak element was what didn’t meet our collective palate.

Deanston up close... (Whisky Lady)

Deanston up close… (Whisky Lady)

In fairness, this isn’t such a bad dram… Unfortunately it just isn’t one that stands out. I’m a firm believer that whisky preferences are highly personal and it all depends on what appeals to your palate. Even though it clearly wasn’t the favourite of the evening, it was one whisky we could pinpoint as ‘Deanston’ even before the reveal. Which means something somewhere has registered as being distinctly ‘Deanston.’  Perhaps in a different mood, setting or a different set of expectations, it would shine more.
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One thought on “Deanston Virgin Oak NAS 46.3%

  1. Pingback: Deanston Virgin Oak ~ 46.3% (Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd.) | The Whiskyphiles

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