This is a very interesting expression, using some interesting techniques. The whisky was first matured in hogsheads (presumably ex bourbon, probably second or third fills), and then finished in first fill bourbon casks. The result is a very malty and sweet whisky, which carries the Deanston maltiness so present in the 12 year old and the Virgin Oak (both of which I’ve been remiss and not reviewed on the blog). This expression could pass as having some sherry matured whisky in it, a tribute to the quality of the casks. This is Batch 2 of the 18 Year Old, priced very decently (for 2016, that is) at about £60/€100 (although I have found it today for £52 on one site).
Like the other two distilleries owned by Burn Stewart Distillers (themselves owned by the South African Distell Group) and all the whisky produced by master blender Ian MacMillan, the basic expressions in all three of their distilleries (including Tobermory and Bunnahabhain) are presented at 46.3% ABV, and are un-chill filtered and non-colored.
Deanston 18 Year Old, First Fill Bourbon Cask Finish (46.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, quick legs with residual drops all over the glass.
Nose: Honey sweetness, I could swear there’s some sherry matured whisky in here, with spice (pepper and some faint dried basil) with some serious maltiness to it. Tropical dried fruit with dried pineapple, dried papaya and dried mango, and vanilla. After a while, some milk chocolate appears.
Palate: Manuka honey, peppery spice and some light sour note. While not heavy in the mouth, this definitely has a presence in the mouth.
Linger: Sweetness and spiciness interplay, with a long and pleasant linger. There is the lightest hint of bitterness on the back of the tongue. After some time, a hint of milk chocolate makes its way back alongside the spice.
Good complex dram, I liked the way the milk chocolate makes a promise in the nose and comes back in the end of the finish, and that pervasive maltiness that’s ever present in this dram. This is an excellent example of the complexity a bourbon cask can impart.