Bread and wine
Deanston is getting a LOT of love from both the well seasoned whisky bods like ralfy, serg and the scotch test dummies and enthusiastic whisky drinkers too; soooo, I suppose it’s time I dipped my toes in the waters of Deaston and see what all the fuss is about. All aboard the hype train?
Before opening the bottle I’m already loving the presentation - at 46% it’s nearing my personal sweet spot of 48%vol, just the right amount of oomf to deliver all the flavours and smells without breaking a sweat (just like one of my all time fav bargains did back in the day - I'm looking at you Ardmore Traditional Cask - why, oh why don't more basic scotch's come in around this number, it makes such a difference) and it’s on the nose we go...
Mmmm, yummy. Warm bready notes are immediately reaching out of the glass without any effort, all dipped in rich wine notes, this is a great start. It's the kind of heady wine notes that bring to mind blushing cheeks after a glass of red. A cherry wood note, warmth oak, pepper, something almost citrus, maybe shavings of pickled ginger? there's cocoa lurking in there and nice, burnt Madeira cake and some toasted, almost burnt pastries. There's also a tiny little sour thing going on, not unenjoyable sourness, just something keeping it from straying into overly sweet territory and a bitter wood note. After about 20 mins in the glass it has mellowed and the initial wine perfume softly dissipates a little and releases a gentle, woody heart With honey. This is good stuff for such a young whisky. I'd have pegged this as something a shade older, 12-15? It does need to sit though, 10-15 mins in the glass makes a huge difference.
In the mouth and WOOF! I was expecting it to be sweet red wine up front and a bit all over the place, maybe masking something less great, but it’s far better than that, this isn't hiding or obscuring, this is gilding something already quite nice. There is a lightness to the spirit, malty, classic bourbon notes arrive but swathed, rather than drowned in red fruits, warm wood spice and it’s viscous - you can feel this young whisky, the 46% vol is paying off nicely. Nice oily mouth feel, there's a feint lemon zest to the proceedings with more wood spice, ginger and a chocolate note. The wine finish is held in check, and there’s more delicate maltiness and more crusty baked bread (There's a real sense of breadiness to Deanston and it really suits a wine paring). There's a nice wine must note in the mix too as well as some tangy, almost metallic liquorice. It feels like everything it pretty well bolted together, far better than I expected it would be. I had imagined a more rough and ready experience but this is a great delivery. All the flavours on the palate move around with confidence without becoming clumsy and overbearing. in the mouth it never once feels like this is a poor whisky Nice.
The finish isn’t massive but it's to it's credit. It’s full and spirited and entirely correct, no miss steps, wood and wine and malt and bready spices fade out in harmony with ample shortbread and Milk chocolate powder to boot. (There’s also a very very feint and pleasant chlorine note - like walking near a swimming pool - sounds weirder than it actually is).
So, my first Deanston and I’m impressed and maybe some of this hype is truly justified. Never heard of them until recently and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Could it be improved? Sure, another few years in the wood may yield even greater depths and a more vigorous flavour profile, but it’s youth is actually part of its' immediate charm. Youth isn't necessarily a bad thing and this proves it in spades.
Great tasting, great value, great presentation. What's not to love. Well done, Deanston. Add one more fan.