Deanston Virgin Oak


Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…

Deanston is a relatively modern distillery by Scotch whisky standards. It was established in the 1960s although the building was previously a cotton mill, dating back to 1785. Today, the distillery is owned by the Distell Group Ltd, a South African-based company that also looks after Bunnahabhain and Tobermory. Deanston has been something of a hidden gem of the single malt world but the whisky seems to be getting some recognition of late. It generally has a fruity, malty and slightly waxy character with several excellent expressions on the market. In this review, however, I’ll be looking specifically at the Deanston Virgin Oak bottling.

Deanston Virgin Oak is finished in new American oak barrels from Kentucky. It’s bottled at 46.3% and retails for £35.

*Full disclosure: the whisky featured in this article was included in an Advent Calendar that was sent to me for free. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.

Deanston Virgin Oak

Smell: Honey and malty bread. Toffee. Caramel. Oaky spices and varnish. Allspice. Anise. Rye bread. Vanilla pods. Orange and a wee bit of lemon air freshener. Water brought out some apples and pears.

Taste: Lively arrival with toffee and vanilla and lots of woody spice. Honey and malt again. The oak almost draws the cheeks in. Touch of orange, even a wee bit of peach coming through on the finish. A bit lighter and fresher with water.

Thoughts: There’s some real intensity of flavour on offer here. Especially for a whisky of such a reasonable price. It’s interesting because I’ve felt myself wearying of the virgin oak finish – something which has become fairly commonplace in the indie bottler scene. All too often it feels like a last-minute attempt to add an extra layer to a fairly pedestrian dram. To be fair to them, however, Deanston released this dram some time ago, well before the current fad and it doesn’t feel like a last-minute cover-up job. The influence of the oak integrates well with the spirit and it strikes a nice balance between being recognisably Deanston and yet different to other core expressions.

Price: £35. Ludicrously good value. Bargain.

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