One of my best ever whisky experiences was with the Deanston 18. I was travelling in Scotland, staying by Loch Morar, Scotland’s deepest lake. I had two bottles of whisky with me for the trip - a small bottle of Clynelish 14, and an even smaller 5cl sample from my first ever bottle of Deanston 18.
I was sitting in a warm room, looking out onto the lake being battered by a deluge of rain coming in from the Atlantic. It felt like an appropriate moment to pour a dram of the Deanston. Mind blown. Something about the singular, honest character of that whisky, at that place and that time just resonated with me. It has never tasted as good since, but I’m happy to get close.
The headline is: if you enjoy a classic malty highland whisky, the Deanston 18 is amazing value at below 60 GBP. Buy some, and then buy some more.
This one shows it’s age in the initial woodiness - if you don’t let it breathe for at least 20 minutes, you’ll have a bad time. While the 18 retains Deanston’s malty character, it is a completely different beast from the 12. The 12 is open, a bit spiky, with a variety of easily identifiable notes flying about. In the 18 everything has melded into a dense, cohesive whole. Many may prefer the 12, but the 18 going for a completely different experience worth seeking out for its own sake.
A very candied nose. Caramel, gingerbread, dry earthy wood (with slight tinges of green, reminding me of bark and moss - dry forest notes). Rich, spiced honey, pretty hints of floral rosewater, honeyed oat biscuits. All of these delicious notes balance the earthy wood in a brilliant way, keeping the overall experience light and enjoyable. Some dry ginger and soft citrus (orange and lemon peels).
In the mouth, the Deanston is lighter than expected from the notes, light to medium bodied. Incredibly malty in the arrival, it’s like drinking oat biscuits, so good! A surge of honeyed fruit is followed by a balanced build-up of spice. Finish, is mostly woody notes.