I’ve actually changed the intro to this review given the recent events at Deanston distillery. For those unaware Deanston falls under the same ownership as Bunnahabhain and Tobermory which means Ledaig as well. The benefit of this is that when you visit one of their distillery shops you’ll have the opportunity to purchase whiskies from their sister distilleries. It broadens the range of bottles available and therefore the types of whiskies as not everyone will appreciate a Deanston or a Bunnahabhain etc.
Deanston distillery hit the headlines last weekend following a Dram Raid as the sensationalist Daily Record referred to it as going so far as to link it to the film The Angels’ Share. What we do know is that criminals targeted a select trio of bottles that were on display in the distillery shop. Being a regular visitor to the distillery the two high value bottles (Ledaig 42yo, Tobermory 42yo) would have been on show in the cabinet directly opposite the counter. My own bottle of choice in a dream supermarket sweep situation would be the 1974 Deanston Oloroso sherry cask; an absolutely divine whisky that was still available last time I checked and south of £1000.
A third bottle of significantly lower value was also taken. The Daily Record suggests the thieves knew their whisky but I’d suggest they only went by the price tags on display. Quickly grabbing the trio before departing the shop, which is set beside an exposed river road between Deanston and Doune. Many distilleries in Scotland operate 24/7 or 24/5 which does suggest some pre-planning and insight as to when the window of opportunity was open.
Any theft is disappointing especially here when I know the friendly atmosphere visitors at Deanston are greeted with. Part of the distillery experience is being able to look around the shop and gaze upon rare and out-of-reach bottles. These can be historical examples or current releases that stretch into four figure sums. So this isn’t just an criminal attack on Deanston but on all of us that enjoy a visit to a distillery.
Whilst I’ve never reviewed either of the stolen bottles, I have heard memorable comments regarding the 42 year old Ledaig. I’ve had a rummage in my sample stockpile and have plucked out this 18 year old Oloroso sherry finish bottled at 46.3% and this bottle will set you back around £90. The sample was provided by the kind folks at Deanston along with the 1996 Ledaig Oloroso cask I reviewed in March.
Colour: a setting sun
Nose: a concoction of peat and caramel laced with cinnamon and sultanas. It’s a lovely example of the peat and sherry cask in harmony rather than the earthy vegetative peat dominating proceedings, or the rich characteristics we associate with Oloroso. Demerara sugar and oddly a bamboo – perhaps I’ve spent far too long in the garden this week and a more traditional note in a subtle ginger sponge cake.
Taste: chopped walnuts combined with orange segments and dark chocolate. There’s a noticeable earthiness and herbal aspect. Butterscotch, some black pepper and cloves all appear during a well judged experience. Grapefruit takes us into the finish.
Overall: it’s fun and very enjoyable as a weekend highlight dram. Arguably the top end of what I’d pay for an 18 year old there’s plenty to sit back with here and appreciate.