DEANSTON 12 YEAR OLD ‘UN-CHILL FILTERED’, 46.3% – OLD PRESENTATION, BOTTLED 2009
After quietly modernising thorough the 1990s, the mid-2000s found the distillery at a crossroads. Its owners wanted to push it as top-drawer single malt brand and in 2009 they brought the Deanston name into the 21st century with a new 12-year-old single malt that proudly identified itself as ‘Un-chill filtered, exactly as it should be’. Since then, the brand’s reputation has grown massively among whisky drinkers.
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Today, the Deanston team carries out the sort of work that makes whisky drinkers take notice. They mash Scottish barley and ferment it for as long as four days prior to distillation. Pushing fermentation past the first couple of days won’t make any more alcohol but it does tend to make the alcohol you wind up with more interesting. All of their official bottlings are arriving on our shelves at respectable ABVs above 46%, non-chill filtered and without artificial colouring. These extra steps beyond what is legally necessary to make whisky, are often what it takes to make a whisky great.
DEANSTON 18 YEAR OLD, 46.3% – BOTTLED 2021
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Master distiller Brendan McCarron joined Deanston’s owner Distell in 2021, a significant departure for the former head of maturing whisky stocks at Glenmorangie. Shortly after his arrival, Brendan fought to save long-running Deanston 18-year-old from discontinuation. As it turns out, he was right to do so. The distillery’s flagship expression shows exactly what modern Deanston is all about – waxy and tropical, with intense citrus fruit and a generous layering of American oak vanilla.
DEANSTON 1997 PALO CORTADO FINISH, 51.8% – BOTTLED 2019
Recent years have seen a broader range of casks than ever before arriving at Deanston. While the oily, fruity spirit produced there is well suited to ex-Bourbon barrels it’s also robust enough to stand up to more boisterous casks like sherry and new American oak. The highly sought-after Palo Cortado matured expression sold out quickly, prompting yet more whisky lovers to take notice of Deanston’s new releases.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Brendan told us in a recent interview. “I think at Deanston we’ve made loads and loads of amazing whiskies but we’ve made them in tiny amounts. So in a way it’s almost just pissed off the Deanston fans. Deanston Palo Cortado was just phenomenal and there was a thousand cases too little of it because there were so many people who wanted to try that whisky and then it was all gone.”
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Part of Brendan’s plan for the future of the distillery involves laying down more casks for single malt and plotting the special editions of tomorrow. Or as he put it, “It’s now our time to be more selfish with this whisky.”