Sadly I only had a sample of this, bought at the distillery shop.
A closed and timid malt, I enjoyed unravelling it with some water, but it takes some work. Very curious to know what the previous contents of the cask were, as they seem to have very little influence on the whisky, perhaps it’s even refill? But Deanston sometimes do funny stuff when naming these special releases, I didn’t know for example that the 2002 ‘pinot noir’ release is actually a Champagne cask finish - so anyone’s guess what this might be.
Great to have a European oak maturation that isn’t sherried. However, this one is perhaps a bit pricy for what it is I think, but I’d grab one on sale. Then again, I didn't get to experience it open up in the bottle - I suspect based on its profile that the rating would be higher if I did.
Out of the bottle, very closed. Dominant alcohol prickle, with faint fruitiness, spiciness and sweetness. Some of the yeastiness from the Deanston spirit still remaining (which I enjoy!), milk chocolate, honey, strawberry, fresh apple. Needs water desperately, but on additions opens up nicely, revealing subtler notes. Lily of the valley, honeysuckle, ripe banana, fresh notes of cardamom and oregano. Slight and difficult to pin down citrus note, but I’ll go with bergamot because of its floral-dry nature, and lime.
Closed again. Chocolate, red apple, spices, honey. Improves greatly with quite a lot of water. Caramel biscuits, pastries, honeycomb, cake. The dark green coniferous notes that to me are part of the distillery signature are also revealed, perhaps some mint. Fruit complex of mandarin, strawberry, papaya.
Medium-long, floral, honeyed, salted caramel, savoury oak and earthy dunnage notes. Cinnamon and cardamom. Nice!