There are some whiskies that if you simply sniff, swish and move on, you may not catch what makes them enjoyable. This Deanston is one of those which initially had quite an unassuming character, yet if you didn’t give it a proper chance, would miss out on a rather companionable dram… it also just so happened to kick of our 2nd Whisky flight with a “lighter touch” at Singapore’s The Single Cask.
Deanston 15 years (1997/2013) Cask No 1958 45.8%
Here is what we found:
Nose – A nice honey sweetness, light touch of flowers, vanilla and a ‘green’ grass fresh quality
Palate – Initially the impression is of citrus sweetness, then with a bit of cheekiness, it starts to reveal much more character with a bit of light spice, raspberries and vanilla wood
Finish – Short, simple and slightly sweet
Overall it is simply a lovely easy drinking whisky. Not complicated, not a show-stopper but one you wouldn’t mind coming back to…
Even when revisited after sampling the other whiskies, there was something simply ‘comfortable’ and ‘comforting’ about this one… and I found myself coming back to it for a final sniff, sip and sigh of happiness.
And here is what the folks over at the Single Cask have to say:
Nose: This is a very natural whisky that is added to, but not burdened, by wood influence. We have just enough vanilla pod and bruleed banana that complements the spirit’s masses of estery green fruit. It is on the whole light and exuberant, showing the freshness of green apple peels but is also anchored by malt notes and linseed oil.
Palate: The wood has more to say here, with a growing hot spiciness and black pepper. But look past that and find tart berries, pollen and – surprise – lots of lilies.
Finish: Vanilla and more charred spiciness linger on.
I certainly didn’t catch any oil or lillies but overall wouldn’t disagree… except for the finish lingering… not in what we experienced but you can also see there wasn’t much left in the bottle! Particularly with lighter whiskies, I find oxidation can be a factor in shifting some elements.
Often when one thinks whisky, what jumps to mind are the sherry bombs, the power packed peat monsters, the salty brine maritime malt, or even a bourbon banana sweet… yet nestled amongst those bold, sometimes brash characters are a subtler lot…
One tends to associate a lighter, slightly sweeter touch with whiskies from the Highlands or Lowlands… though not necessarily so…
On my 2nd stop to The Single Cask, we picked the featured whisky flight with:
Here’s another post from our archives, this time courtesy of another member from April 2012…
The evening was delightful with a very special malt selection comprising of Auchentoshan 12 year 40%, AnCnoc 40%, a not so common Deanston 46.3% and a Tomatin 21% received as a gift from the distiller.
We liked the bitter chocolate in Deanston and the strong, spicy mint (like pudina chutney not altoids) in Tomatin (quite complex and a great Cigar paring we think).
One found the AnCnoc was almost like Compass Box’s Spice Tree with it’s spice burst. Another loves lowland whiskies so anything from there makes a good after dinner drink for him, whereas yet another chose the Tomatin as his repeat drink.
We also discovered the dramatic difference in the overall experience of tasting the same whisky in two different glasses – a regular tumbler styled glass and the recommended nosing glass by Glencairn.
While I missed sampling with our merry group, I managed to taste them at a later point… most recently the Deanston in Kuala Lumpur.
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 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 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)
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.