A Shocker From Deanston
While Deanston has never been a house hold name in the whisky world, even with the genre's most knowledgeable fans, it's long been a part of the Bunnahabhain/Tobermorey company portfolio now owned by the Distell group and a large chunk of the Highland whisky goes into the blend Scottish Leader, which sells quite well outside the states. Deanston has never been all that successful at K&L. I've carried it from time to time when there's room, but it's never put out anything exciting that I've tasted. Most of the time the whiskies I've experienced are dependable, but forgettable.
However, that all changed earlier this week when I tasted Deanston's new 10 and 20 year old sherry-aged malts.
I was downright floored by the new 10 year old PX sherry cask finished edition, bottled at a whopping 57.5% ABV with a sweet sherry note that is simply gorgeous. There's no doubt about which of their competitors they have in their sights with this new release. It's priced and crafted perfectly to square off with the Aberlour A'Bunadh, one of the boldest, sherry-matured whiskies on the market and one that we plow through here at K&L on a regular basis. That being said, Deanston has the advantage here for a number of reasons: the PX sherry butts give it a fruitier, sweeter edge than the Aberlour and the 10 year age statement is a huge bonus for whisky fans who like knowing exactly how old their malt is. Full of caramel and sticky toffee pudding on the nose, the palate explodes with dried figs and rancio notes, but the core flavors of the vanilla from the malt are never lost. This was a total shocker for our spirits department and we responded by loading up on our inventory. It's a bold step forward for one of Scotland's most overlooked distilleries.
Deaston's new 20 year Oloroso sherry-aged release, however, will draw comparisons to Glenfarclas and Aberlour with its concentrated caramel and rancio sherry notes and supreme decadence. More savory on the finish than sweet, it's one of the best new releases from the distillery that I've ever tasted (I still give the nod to the 10 year). Bottled at 55.5%, it's got plenty of heft, but it carries that power surprisingly well. If you want something more saturated with sherry, go with this. But if you want that sweet, fruity PX sherry note, the 10 will really surprise you.
I absolutely love it when something like this happens. I love seeing underachievers over-achieve!! Maybe it's the former elementary school teacher in me.