I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Sherry cask matured whiskies. When the Sherry cask influence is overdone (which it frequently is) I'm not a fan. The natural character of the spirit just gets engulfed by a big blanket of Sherry. But when it's done right. When the spirit doesn’t spend too long in Sherry casks. Or maybe the final vatting is a mix of Sherry and Bourbon casks. Then the results can be great. You get the vibrancy and complexity of the spirit enhanced by the richness of the Sherry cask.
So onto this Deanston which definitely fits into the category of a Sherry cask maturation done well. The review is from a sample kindly provided by @Timp
Despite the high abv this whisky can be drunk neat.
Initially a really weird and slightly off putting putty note. Not a good start! This then disappears and I wonder if it was just me? Some more usual aromas now.
Spice, dried fruits, gingerbread men, Danish pastries.
A little hot and spicy on the arrival. But keeping in mind the abv that's not a surprise. Dried fruits. A long development which is a multitude of spices and a chilli note then a sweeter icing sugar flavour.
Finish is quite short with some bitter tannins
Now this is more like it! The addition of a little water makes this malt come alive.
The nose is the same as it is neat. But without the putty note. Lots of spices and ginger. Much softer on the nose with the addition of water. Also some leather detectable a few minutes after the water has been added.
More softer and creamier with the addition of water. Again spices and dried fruits. But also toffee, oranges, vanilla ice cream.
The finish seems to extend with water. There is more leather and burnt caramel.
Neat this is a decent whisky. But when you add water it goes from being decent to very, very good indeed. The malts unravels a little and everything feels more relaxed and spaced out.
For 10 years old this performs like a whisky that has spent a lot longer in good casks.
If this were still available. I'd buy two bottles!