Review: Deanston Virgin Oak

Deanston Virgin Oak is the entry-level offering from a distillery that I have heard many great things about, but it never really appealed to me. And I’ll admit (with a hint of shame) that branding played a part in that. The logo always reminded me of a school building – even though none of the school I went to had a watermill – and the packaging always seemed rather bland.

But in the end, taste is king. And after working my way down three quarters of the bottle I thought it was high time to give it a little review.

Tasting Notes: Deanston Virgin Oak

Stats:

ABV: 46,3 %

Age: NAS

Distillery: Deanston Distillery

Owned by: Distell Group Limited

Category: Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Awards: International Spirits Challenge Gold (2020), The Scotch Whisky Masters Gold (2014, 2018, 2019), The Scotch Whisky Masters Silver (2015), San Francisco World Spirits Competition (2013), IWSC Silver (2014, 2014, 2017).

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

I’m having a quiet Sunday night, after helping my sister paint her new house earlier today. So, I do feel tired, but that brings me all the more in the mood to sit back and relax with a dram. I opted for quiet today, so no music is playing in the background. The dram was poured neat, in a perfect dram glass.

Nose:

The nose is very light and fresh. There’s some lemon in there and certain floral notes that remind me of perfume. It reminds me of the very first “expensive” perfume I bought for myself (to impress a girl who may have mentioned it was her favourite). Isn’t it wonderful how whisky can bring back memories sometimes? Going back to the glass I’m also getting a honeyed cereal note, like honey pops (or honey loops, I don’t quite recall). It’s a pleasant nose, but not very complex or impressive. After a drop of water, the focus lies more on the citrus notes mentioned before.

Palate:

The honey pops are the first thing that “pops” up again on the palate. It lasts very short though as oak notes quickly take over. The oak is very present, so it takes another sip to pick up more after that. When I do there’s some cream and strangely enough, I’m suddenly getting eggnog (or more specifically Advocaat). I like eggnog, so that’s a pleasant surprise. The drop of water had a remarkable effect on the palate. It really changed the dram for me. The citrus really shines through, and it reminds me of one thing in particular: lemon cheesecake.

Finish:

It’s the cream that lingers most. With a hint of caramel in it. What comes to mind is melted caramel I cream, those last few drops of liquid you scrape from the bowl when it tasted especially good. There’s some oak bitterness remaining on the sides of the tongue which can even get a bit metallic after a while. I can’t say I appreciate that side of this dram, but thankfully it doesn’t overwhelm. With a drop of water, the bitterness fades even further and its sweet counterpart almost becomes a crème brûlée. You won’t hear me complain about that.

Verdict:

I find myself enjoying this dram quite a bit. It’s not the most complex dram, and it does hit some notes that I don’t particularly appreciate. But it also hits some boxes when it comes to things that suit my palate very well and I find myself going back to this dram to explore it more often enough. The most important thing I take away from sipping this is that I need to explore Deanston some more. This is their entry-level bottling, with no age statement, and widely available for less than 25 euro. Considering all that, I think there might just be some other gems to find in their line-up. But if you’re strapped for cash, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Rating:

82/100

Value:

A

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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