Deanston is one of these distilleries that have a huge offering of ‘special releases’ and a very modest core range with merely two age statements and a virgin oak expression. This 18 Year Old sits at the top of the range, above the Deanston 12 Years. It comes exclusively from first fill bourbon casks.
I tried this whisky almost 7 years ago and wasn’t exactly blow away. Yet Deanston 18 won the Whisky of the Year 2022 award from The Whisky Exchange, which piqued my interest. So here I am with a new batch in my glass.
Deanston 18 yo (46,3%, OB +/- 2023)
Nose: a fresh and rather classic nose. A lot of bakery notes (pancake batter, vanilla biscuits, some sourdough bread) with breakfast cereals. Then fruity hints of melons, pears and light pineapple. Whipped cream with a drop of honey and hints of toffee.
Mouth: creamy, on apples and pears, with a hint of sucrose. Then lemon cheesecake, some buttery batter again, as well as hints of sweet oak. A light waxy note. Also white bread, light pepper, aniseed and a hint of cinnamon.
Finish: medium length, with a nice lemony side, apple peels and gentle wood spice.
In a way this is a very middle-of-the-road malt, but it’s also really well executed. The barley sweetness, the creamy texture, the gentle fruitiness – it all feels entirely natural and weary of any make-up. This is less mature, less special than most other 18 year-olds perhaps, but it has an understated charm and comes at a fair price. Available from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt for instance.