I’ve tried a couple of Deanston single malt whiskies before, and enjoyed them both. But this one is something special. It’s 37 years old, for a start, and has spent its life in Oloroso sherry casks. Given that the distillery only opened in the mid 1960s when it was converted from a cotton mill – on the banks of the River Teith just beyond Stirling – then this is a genuine glimpse into the early days of the distillery. What’s more, only 102 bottles were ever produced.
This came from a sample sent to me by Whisky Rover, who talks a little about the bottle he bought as a rare, rare treat for himself when the visitor centre reopened in 2012. It’s pricey, at an eye-watering £850 a bottle. It also comes in a 50.3% ABV, which seems nicely robust for 37 years (the Glenglassaugh 43 Year Old I tried recently was just over 40%).
Colour: henna, burnt umber. On the nose: oooh, now that’s something very charming, almost the whisky equivalent of some old cad such as Nigel Havers. Sherried, certainly, but full of old wood notes. Pencil boxes and old school desks. Mulled wine, ink pens. Oodles of sweetness though, dried fruits steeped in brandy. A battered old Chesterfield that’s been stood by a wood-burner.
In the mouth: all of that noes comes through again delightfully, with the sweetness dominating the first half. Madeira, blackberry jam, almond butter. Yes, dried fruits, but that’s more of a sideshow. Quite a light and velvety texture – properly elegant, in fact, as it sort of oozes around your mouth in a very tender way. Pencil boxes again, and cooked veg, with peaches in syrup and burnt toast. A warming, gently spiced finish that goes on and on.
It’s exquisite, absolutely sublime. A grand old whisky from a distillery that likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Go and see what the Whisky Rover has to say about it.