Jan 112020

You’ll recall that last year I tasted the 2018 Limited Edition Bunnahabhain Palo Cortado Finish. That too was a 1997 vintage, presented at 20 years old. Here we have the whisky maturing for another year in the Palo Cortado, so we’re at almost three years in the Palo Cortado casks.

Photo Credit: dallasnews.com/

I have to say that the quality of the casks that Burn Stewart is using over the past few years for finishes is just outstanding. In truth, they’re even being used smartly for second finishes, evidenced in this year’s 2008 Bunnahabhain Mòine French Oak Finish Feis Ile distillery day bottling.

Palo Cortado is a fluke in the sherry industry, commonly referred to as “Fino gone bad”, having lost its flor. For more about Palo Cortado, I’ll point you to Ruben Luyten’s Sherry Notes blog, where you’ll get the full rundown on this type of sherry.

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Deanston 21, 1997 Palo Cortado Finish, 1663 Bottles (51.8% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep gold, same as the other two in hue, with tiniest thin legs…

Nose: Creamy and deep, with a nuttiness and an earthiness. Sherry vinegar comes together with almond meal and some mineral dryness, with hints of the yellow fruit that was present in the other two expressions. Light cinnamon, hint of clove and a dash of nutmeg, with some white pepper and oak.

Palate: Thick and syrupy, with honey and another, brighter fruity sweetness. There are sweet green grapes, some green fruit and a bit of malt that hit back of the tongue.

Linger: Sweet and spicy, gentle, with a lingering hint of the yellow fruit, running down into the gullet. The finish is really delightful. After a few minutes, those minerals from the nose come back in the finish.


This is nothing short of a brilliant dram.
Complex, showing the sherry casks without losing the character of the distillate. Did I say brilliant?

Jan 072020

Following yesterday’s 2006 Fino, we move on to the second of the three Deanston offerings is a 16 year old Organic Oloroso. This isn’t Deanston’s first foray into Organic whisky, and we had a 15 and a 14 year old organic offering. Since the 15 year old was released in 2016 and the 14 year old in 2017, the math brings us to 2019 with a 16 year old.

Photo Credit: Deanston

The organically certified 15 year old was limited to Germany and travel retail, while this 16 year old Oloroso finish Limited Edition is (still) widely available.


Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Deanston 2002 Organic Oloroso Cask Finish, 16 Years Old, 528 Bottles (50.6% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep gold, with a very sturdy necklace.

Nose: Nice. The nose starts with a honeyed sweetness, followed by a hint of sherry vinegar and dried apricots. There’s a hint of sweet white wine, against a backdrop of blackcurrant and dried cherries.

Palate: Pepper mixed with a nice red wine, washed down with a sip of apple juice. Chicory coffee and some subtle chocolate with a drizzle of red fruit coulis.

Linger: Spicy in the gullet, with a dryness in the back half of the inner cheeks. The fresh fruit sweetness mixes with a hint of malt.


This dram is very well crafted, developing layer after layer. From the sweet maltiness to the fruitiness.
This is a great sipper, that will keep unfolding in the glass and the mouth.

Jan 052020

I’m beginning a review of the Distell Limited Edition for 2019, and we’ll start with the 2006 Fino Finish.


Image result for distell limited edition releases 2019

This release includes eight expressions, three each from Deanston and Bunnahabhain, and two from Tobermory, a Tobermory and a Ledaig:

  • Deanston 1997 21 Year Old Palo Cortado Finish
  • Deanston 2002 16 Year Old Organic Oloroso Finish
  • Deanston 2006 12 Year Old Fino Finish
  • Bunnahabhain 2007 11 Year Old Port Pipe Finish
  • Bunnahabhain 2007 11 Year Old French Brandy Finish
  • Bunnahabhain 1988 30 Year Old Marsala Finish
  • Tobermory 1999 19 Year Old Marsala Cask Finish
  • Ledaig 1997 21 Year Old Manzanilla Cask Finish

I’ve mentioned more than once on these pages that I have a great admiration for the way Distell’s Burn Stewart treats its whisky, having taken the whole range to bottlings of over 46% (to the very specific 46.3%, or higher), with no colorants and no chill filtration used for any single malts. Add that to access to some stellar casks (being used very smartly for various finishes throughout the three distilleries and showcased in the Limited Editions and in the BYO casks at each distillery), and you have a winning formula.

This is the second annual Limited Edition, and Distell has released a beautiful video review of all eight malts. The tasting is led by Master Blender Dr. Kirstie McCallum, Blender Julianne Fernandez and Distell’s Distilleries Manager Stephen Woodcock.  If you want to watch it, you’ll find it here, and this particular bottle is presented at 15:47.

This whisky spent 9.5 years in ex-bourbon casks, and was then transferred to


Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Deanston 2006, 12 Year Old Fino Finish, 268 Bottles (55% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep gold, very thin and slow legs.

Nose: Yellow plums and bright green grapes, with nutmeg, a touch of hay, notes of white pepper and a hit of golden raisins. It’s malty with those golden fruits. Your nose wants to shout banana, but it’s not quite that. Most intriguing…

Palate: Thick and full bodied, you get spices with some chalk and plums and raisins. Almonds with a cinnamon dusting, and a fruity sweetness.

Linger: Pepper and a dry note, with some real fruitiness. The dryness lingers on the tongue and the insides of the cheeks.


This is a dram where the fruit and the spice work very nicely together.

Jul 092018

Today we’ll be tasting Deanston’s new 2008 Wine Cask Matured offering, presented at cask strength.
Now wine cask maturation is a divisive issue in the whisky world. Sure, everybody like fortified wine cask whisky maturation (sherry, Port, Marsala, Moscatel), but red wine is as divisive as Bowmore whisky. Some love it and some just can’t stand it. Take the world’s most respected and loved whisky blogger, Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com.  Take a whisky he likes, stick in in a red wine cask, and you’ll incur an instant 10 point penalty, at the very least.

I, however, am a fan, and usually find more to like than to dislike. I say usually, because one of the worst I’ve had was a Caol Ila in a funky Banyules wine cask.  But in general, I really enjoy them, and seek them out. So obviously, when Deanston came out with this pretty wine matured whisky, I partook.

Deanston Visitor Center

Photo Credit: visitscotland.com

Speaking of Deanston, we’re starting to see a pretty wide use of casks at the distillery. The 18 year old is finished in first fill bourbon casks, the distillery exclusives included a 15 year old finished in Sauternes, and a 12 year old in Palo Cortado, as well as a 14 year old finished in Spanish oak. Might we assume we’ll see some


Deanston 2008

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Deanston 2008 Bordeaux Cask Matured (57.8%)

Appearance: Dark copper, tiny legs coming off a sturdy necklace.

Nose: Red fruit with cranberries and macerated strawberries, dry wine oak, wine vinegar, wood spices, with cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. A few drops of water bring out strawberry confiture and some mineral notes.

Palate: Dry and viscous, with berries and a hint of lavender, cinnamon and cardamom as well as some thick honey and a hit of pine. Water skews the spice toward pepper.

Linger: Tart and dry, with a hit of pepper. there’s a warmth that lingers for a long time in the top of the throat. The dryness is very dominant.


This is a beautiful wine cask matured whisky, with a massive wine influence.

Feb 262016

After tasting, and liking, the bourbon cask matured and finished 18 year old, I tasted the new 20 year old, which was also part of a local bottle share.

Part of the South African owned Burn Stewart Distillers, Deanston, together with Bunnahabhain and Tobermory make up the malts composing Burn Stewart’s Scottish Leader blend, a brand with a strong presence in Taiwan and South Africa.

Deanston Distillery

The distillery was opened in an abandoned old cotton mill in January 1967, and was mothballed in the great whisky loch of 1982. It remained silent until 1991, reopening after being acquired by Burn Stewart Distillers. Despite being founded only 50 years ago, the distillery is staunchly traditional and ecological, using only Scottish barley, no computerization and using power produced by water driven turbines on the river Teith, and produces about 2 million liters of alcohol a year.

The move Burn Stewart Distillers made under the helmsmanship of Master Blender Ian MacMillan to raise standard ABV for all the group’s expressions to at least 46.3% and stop using coloring and chill filtration across all brands, as well as tightening quality control, has paid off, with all three brands growing in sales.

This 20 year old was fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks, and is presented at cask strength, proudly carrying Deanston’s motto ‘we put everything we are into everything we make’.

Photo Credit: somersetwhisky.com

Photo Credit: somersetwhisky.com

Deanston 20 Year Old (55.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, very slow and thin legs run off a sturdy necklace.

Nose: True sherry bomb territory here, with a strong hit of sultanas, a light note of sourness, a latte coffee, milk chocolate, dried fruit platter, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a hint of malt in the background.

Palate: Uniquely bitter, with some sherry sourness, dried berries, wood spices and hints of orange peel. It’s creamy and full bodied, with a drying effect.

Linger: Dry and bitter, with some rich pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon on the palate and on the top of the gullet. Hints of a sour note pop up on occasion, with some serious dryness all around.


This is a beautiful expression. Truly. A great dram to slowly savor. If you have a proclivity to bitterness, as this writer has, you’ll absolutely love this dram. I will say, though, that not all of the share participants who have already tasted this expression, share my raving enthusiasm for it….