Deanston 18 Year Old (46.3%) – Whisky Review

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).

Photo Credit: Eileen Henderson

Photo Credit: Eileen Henderson

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.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

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.

6 comments on “Deanston 18 Year Old (46.3%) – Whisky Review
  1. I was not impressed with the 18 Year Old.Very expensive and tasted like a good quality matured American Bourbon with that typical toffee/sour fruit combination. The thing is I didn’t buy a Bourbon. I bought a Southern Highlands Malt. Regarding not having added colouring, I am not convinced. I find it difficult to believe that even a fresh First Fill Ex-Bourbon cask can produce such a deep orangy caramel colour. What is your proof that this whisky has no added E150a caramel colouring? It doesn’t state this on the Internet site. The only explanation I can think of is that either there is some ex-sherry cask influence even though they don’t tell you or tehe cask has been heavily charred before use.

    • Mordechai, thanks for your comment. The label clearly states on the bottom right hand corner “nothing added”. I understand that as a clear statement that E150 was not added…
      Also, first fill bourbon casks can impart quite a bit of color, so I wouldn’t take the color to indicate either sherry or caramel.

  2. John McGowan says:

    Well having read Rebs review I just wondered was it actually Deanston 18 he was reviewing. I know we’re all different, but this is nothing remotely like a bourbon. Bourbons to me, are rough and grainy. The Deanston is an amazing malt from a very honest and traditional distillery. Out of the hundred or so malts I have and tasted, Deanston is a fabulous piece of work, from the 12 upward. Keep up the quality folks. Your doing what every real whisky drinkers are looking for, honesty, quality and dedication.

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