Let's see, what else is there
to tell about Deanston? Not
that much, apparently...
The single malt whisky itself
is relatively hard to find (well,
at least here in Holland). Based
on my research in the 1990's
I'd have said that it hardly
seemed worth hunting down.
True to the ongoing 'concentration' trend in the whisky world, Burn Stewart was aquired by Angostura International Ltd., producers of bitters and rum - and themselves a subsidiary of the investment company C L Financial Ltd. from Trinidad & Tobago). The new owners bought an 18% share in Burn Stewart in 1999 and acquired the remaining shares in 2002.
Other products containing Deanston
malt whisky are Wallace Single Malt
Liqueur and Drumgray Highland Cream
Liqueur. The official (international)
range of Deanston consists of 12yo
and 17yo expressions but in France
a 6yo version is available as well.
Cadenhead's and Signatory Vintage are the independent bottlers that have released the most
independent bottlings of Deanston malt whisky. Other bottlers like Douglas Laing and The Whisky
Shop have also released the occasional bottling, but they are the proverbial exceptions to the rule.
Deanston may not be one of the big brands, but with a production capacity of 3,000,000 litres of
pure alcohol per year, it's Burn Stewart's 'powerhouse' distillery. The production capacity exceeds
Bunnahabhain's 2,500,000 and Tobermory's 1,000,000 litres of whisky. Capacity-wise, Deanston
distillery ranked #27 on the list of all Scotch malt whisky distilleries in 2005.
Deanston (Pronounced: DEENston)
56°11'21.6924 N, 4°4'17.2128 W
Glengoyne, Glenturret, Tullibardine
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
3,000,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Distell > Burn Stewart Distillers (since 2013)
Deanston, Perthshire, FK16 6AG
Not entirely sure, but they do give tours nowadays
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2002 - CL Financial
buys the remaining shares in Burn Stewart, after already acquiring part of the company in 1999. So, that makes them the owners of the Deanston distillery as well.
2006 - A thirty years old official bottling of the Deanston single malt Scotch whisky is released.
2009 - A new packaging is released for the official bottling of Deanston 12 years old whisky.
2011 - In a press release of early March 2011, the Scotch Whisky Association makes a big deal about their green credentials because they "encourage" distillers and whisky drinkers to turn off the power for an hour on March 26. Unfortunately, I'm too bad at mathematics to figure out exactly how much hot air the average pot still produces in a single day (not to mention the amount of hot air that is produced by the PR people of the SWA), but looking at the large number of distilleries that have gone from five or six production days per week to seven in recent years, I think that it's safe to classify this appeal as largely symbolic. In sharp contrast to the SWA, Deanston puts its money where its mouth is. The Deanston whisky distillery is completely self sustaining w.r.t. electricity, so it actually IS green.
2012 - Part of the Ken Loach drama "The Angels' Share" is filmed at Deanston distillery.
Whisky writer Charles MacLean plays a part in the movie as well; the name of his character is 'Rory McAllister' but I'd say that Charlie is basically playing himself; sampling and talking about malt whisky.
2013 - Burn Stewart (owner of the Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory distilleries) was sold by CL Financial to drinks conglomerate Distell from South Africa.
1) The Deanston distillery was converted from a weavery, constructed in 1785.
2) Did you know that it takes almost a litre of oil to produce a litre of (regular) whisky?
After the conversion Deanston became the only whisky distillery in Scotland that's completely self-sustaining as far as electricity is concerned. Water from the river Teith drives a turbine that powers Deanston. The distillery even sells the surplus energy to the national electricity grid. As you can see in my tasting notes not all bottlings of Deanston impressed me very much, but as an armchair eco-warrior I'm very eager to give Deanston another chance; I sincerely hope they put all that eco-power to good use!
3) A 30yo official bottling of Deanston that was released in 2006 contains only malt whiskies that were distilled before the (temporary) closure of Deanston in 1982.
4) The Deanston single malt is an important component of the 'Scottish Leader' blended whisky.
5) Capacity-wise, the Burn Stewart group ranked #10 among the whisky producers in Scotland in 2010.
Here are my notes on some 'core range' OB's and a selection of my personal favourite independent bottlings.
Interestingly enough, all of these independent whisky bottlings were from 1977 and bottled by Cadenhead's.
Deanston 12yo (46.3%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010)
Nose: Oily, nutty start. Then the strange fruity notes emerge that usually indicate some kind of finishing.
Sweet & sour. Some smokier and farmy elements appear after a few minutes. Becomes too sour in the end.
Taste: Round and sweet start. It feels hotter than the relatively modest proof would suggest. Menthol.
Score: 74 points - Nose and palate were not really consistent over time. Loses points after a decent start.
Deanston 12yo (46.3%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)
Nose: Softly sweet start. Hint of mint. Menthos? Fairly restrained. After a few minutes more sour fragrances in the 'farmy' spectrum. When I revisited the malt after a few months the sour notes were dominant from the start.
Taste: Caramel, a very soft and smooth start - almost like an Irish whiskey. Malty with a hint of burnt coffee.
Powers up over time, but the finish is quite harsh and peppery. Some notes in the herbal side of the spectrum.
Score: 77 points - no extraordinary single malt, but much, much better than Deanston was a decade ago.
Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Burn Sytewart, Bottled +/- 2006)
Nose: Smooth and sweet. Apples? Grows farmier and metallic over time.
Not bad whisky at all. It's still a little 'weird' and farmy, but that definitely sets it apart.
Taste: Phew! Very bitter - astringent like aspirin. Harsh. I have to say this pulls down the score.
Score: 76 points - which makes it one of the highest scoring Deanston OB's I've tried so far.
Deanston 25yo 1977/2003 (50.3%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, 198 Bottles)
Nose: Light and surprisingly sweet. Grassy. Salmiak. Melon. A well defined nose.
Taste: A tad tired. Malty with a hint of eucalyptus or menthol. No sweetness.
Score: 81 points - once again this IB is much better than the OB's. Could Deanston be another example of a distillery that doesn't live up to its potential due to careless cask management or lack of interest in small series?
Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1999, 70cl)
Nose: A little sweet and oily, with a hint of chloride. Quite pleasant at first, but the bouquet vanishes quickly.
Taste: A bit disappointing. Nutty (hazelnuts/almonds) after a while.
Clean, with a malty finish, becoming very bitter with water.
Score: 57 points - which means that this Deanston equals a sub-standard malt whisky in my book.
Deanston 21yo 1977/1999 (53,5%, Cadenhead's, Bottled July 1999)
Nose: Sampled at Whiskyfestival Noord Nederland 2006 in Groningen; no notes.
Nose: Sampled at Whiskyfestival Noord Nederland 2006 in Groningen; no notes.
Score: 78 points - but I should add that it's one of my least 'solid' whisky scores ever.
Deanston 17yo (40%, OB, 70cl, Short, fat bottle, 7156 97/0331 L16 15:53, Bottled 1990's?)
Nose: Strong & sweet at first, malty & spirity later on. Veggy whiffs. Intruiging suggestion of fruit.
Taste: Not very sweet. A bit of mint and menthol. Fairly MOTR with little distinguishing elements.
More pine and resin after I added some water. Falls apart. Unpleasant bitter twang in the finish.
Score: 68 points - much better than my 57 points for the 12yo from the late 1990's but nothing to boast about.
Deanston 18yo 1977/1996 (54.7%, Cadenhead's, Distilled November 1977, Bottled January 1996)
Nose: Strong late summer fruits. None of the usual 'farmy' notes that I get in Deanston. At least...
There is some dust and rotting milk powder far in the background. More cask than country...
Taste: Very hot - I needed to add some water right away. With a few drops it really opens up.
Still powerful at slightly below 50%, but much better. Excellent mouth feel with smoke in the finish.
Score: 87 points - which made it my new favourite Deanston expression, decisively beating the Deanston NAS (40%, OB, "100% Highland", Late 1970's) at 83 points, Deanston 25yo (40%, OB, Burn Stewart, Decanter with silver cork, Bottled +/-2000) at 82 points and Deanston 25yo 1977/2003 (50.3%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon HH, 198 Bts.) at 81 points. All other expressions of Deanston I've tried so far (until 2009, that is) scored below 80 points.
Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1990)
Nose: Grainier and lighter than the NAS. Hint of oil? Sweetens out. Sunflower seeds. A little sweaty.
Taste: Phew! Gritty and bitter. Herbal – in a Swiss herbal bonbons way. Resinous. Pine. Tea Tannins.
Score: 65 points – yes, this is much more along the lines of the unimpressive 1990′s Deanstons I know.
Deanston NAS (40%, OB, "100% Highland", Bottled Late 1970′s)
Nose: Sweet. Faintest hint of dust. Some antiquity? Lovage. Lots of 'gravitas' in the nose. A few weak moments.
Taste: Old oranges. Orange skin. Gritty. Pretty pleasant – certainly for a Deanston which I wasn't a fan of.
Score: 83 points – my favourite Deanston so far, beating the Deanston 25yo 1977/2003 (50.3%, Cadenhead).
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Deanston Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Deanston page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Deanston expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
distillery, located in Perthshire in the Midlands (also known as
the Southern Highlands) is one of the most recently constructed distilleries in
Scotland. In fact, I could argue that Deanston wasn't really 'constructed' at all.
In 1965 and 1966 Deanston was converted from a cotton mill (built in 1785)
by the Deanston Distillery Co Ltd. - a subsidiary of James Finlay & Co Ltd.
The first spirit was distilled in October 1966
and in 1971 the very first whisky
became available under the name 'Old Bannockburn'. Deanston was sold to
Invergordon Distillers in 1972 who released the first single malt under the
'Deanston' name a few years later. The distillery itself fell silent in 1982 and
remained closed until 1990, when Burn Stewart & Co plc. purchased Deanston.
They later went on to buy Tobermory (in 1993) and Bunnahabhain (in 2003).
However, maybe my preferences have changed - or
maybe I've found a new appreciation for the unique
'farmy' traits of Deanston. Batches of some official
bottlings released in the third millennium were most
certainly interesting... Nevertheless, I imagine most of
the malt whisky distilled at Deanston is used in Burn
Stewart's blends anyway. Yes it is; I just checked the
Malt Whisky Yearbook and it says that only 15% of the
malt whisky that is distilled at Deaston is bottled as
such; the rest goes into generic blended whiskies like
Scottish Leader and Black Bottle. Well - maybe not the
Black Bottle - I'll have to check my sources...
It seems independent bottlings
of Deanston are relatively rare too,
at least if we look at the MMMonitor.
There have been no more than two dozen...
Is the distillery or