Deanston 20 Year Old (55.3%) – Whisky Review

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:

Photo Credit:

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….

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