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Deanston 10 YO PX cask

Sherry...sherry, more sherry

5 885

@NozinanReview by @Nozinan

22nd Sep 2017

1

  • Nose
    ~
  • Taste
    ~
  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
    ~
  • Overall
    85

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

@Astroke inspired me to pick this up. A 10 YO possibly cask strength bottle for $80 (inaccurately listed as 46.3% at LCBO). The only experience I have with Deanston is in the context of @paddockjudge’s Legacy blending masterclass, so it was worth exploring.

According to the packaging, this is a rare and unique bottling. The distillate was originally casked in June 2006, hand-filled into bourbon casks (does not say if they were first fill or refill). Apparently after 8 years the “amber spirit” was transferred to specially selected PX sherry butts. It was matured a further 2 years. It does not state if it has been diluted (I suspect minimally if any) or if caramel has been added, but it is not chill-filtered. So, is it a masterpiece worth savouring, as stated on the box?

I opened this 2 days ago and again yesterday for small pours to “suss it out”. The bottle is more than 85% full and was gassed after each pour.

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. In each case, I started out in the Glencairn then transferred to the Kentucky Bourbon glass so as to be able to do all this with one dram (no leftovers wanted).


Nose:

Neat

Very sweet nose initially. On first pour there is a not-so pleasant vegetal note that seems to dissipate mostly after 15 minutes. The sherry is very strong and overwhelms the spirit but fades with time and air in the glass. Some syrupy sweetness. A bit of alcohol burn. Some prunes or dates, a little vanilla. Hint of cinnamon. After pouring into the bourbon glass, the empty glencairn gives off a fresher aroma, some sour cherry and a little dust.

In the bourbon glass, and I’m not sure if it’s because time in the glass has dissipated the finishing cask a bit, it’s a little cleaner, I get brighter fruit notes, some lighter syrup, and a rich alcohol burn if I stick my nose in.

Nice nose. 21.5/25

With water – The vegetal note returns slightly then fades. Less complex. A little cherry. Moving into the bourbon glass, the nose remains a little more muted. (21/25)

Taste:

Neat – In the bourbon glass, a little spirity, sweet arrival. Very sweet. Some cherry, vanilla. From the glencairn it’s a little less sweet and I get a hint of menthol. It’s a little too sweet for me. 21/25

With water – The bourbon cask is more apparent in the arrival and the sherry peeks through in the development. The mouthfeel is a bit creamier than neat. A little baking spice in the background. It’s less sweet . A little spicier in the glencairn. I like it better with water. (21.5/25)

Finish: Short, sweet, a little cloying. A bit astringent. Longer with water. 21/25

Balance: I think the sherry is a bit too strong in this one. It really masks the spirit, and I would like to be able to taste the Deanston more than the Pedro Ximenez. 21/25

Score: Neat - 84.5/100 With Water: 84.5/100


I can’t help thinking that after 8 years in these particular bourbon casks the blenders felt that the spirit wasn’t going anywhere so they decided to throw it into some PX casks to paint over everything. Then by 10 years it was so overwhelmingly sherried they had to stop. They might have considered recasking in ex-bourbon. The sandwich approach has worked well to take wine finishes (Amrut IS, Springbank Claret wood).

This whisky reminds me a little of two other very different spirits. On the one had there's something in the spirit that reminds me of the G&M Mortlach I have. The other is that I am reminded of Wiser's Union 52 by the PX finish.

It’s not bad and I’m glad I have the bottle. But I won’t run out to get another. It will be interesting to see how this bottle evolves with time.

If you like really sweet whisky, this one is for you. If you’re not a fan of wine-masking, try before you buy.

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8 comments

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

I'll try to mentally file this one away as an example of a finishing where the flavoring from the previous cask contents is overpowering.

Every once in a while, we see the subject of a whisky that's overwhelmed by its cask flavoring. People often attribute that to too much time in the flavored cask, but I have a pet theory that it's actually the opposite—that a short time in the flavoring cask produces the heavy-handed flavor from a simple absorption of the old juice, while a long time in the flavoring cask produces a more subtle effect thanks to the long-term wood interaction, rather than just sopping up that juice.

Now this was two years in that sherry cask? I'm not really sure where that medium period of time fits in my theory. But I guess it's a data point nonetheless.


@Nozinan , about the label info you passed on here: They call it "amber spirit"? That's weird. I never heard that before—have you? Do they do any more to define this neologism?

And are we sure the PX sherry butts were "specially selected"? :)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Mancub
Mancub commented

Nice review @Nozinan. As I said in a previous post I also picked up a bottle of this, but haven't opened it yet. I was planning to use it as my contribution to our club's whisky advent calendar (everyone buys a new bottle and divides it up (16 ways) into boston rounds). I'm planning to do this sooner than later as I think a month or two with a little air exposure will help this spirit. I'll be checking back with you to see how it evolves over time.

I don't have a lot of experience with PX casks, but I do have a bottle of the Lagavulin DE which is matured for 1 year in PX. It is very impactful and very sweet, some may even say it takes over a bit much. I've heard this a lot with PX casks in particular, though I have read many very positive reviews of Laphroaig PX finish, but I've yet to try it (travel retail exclusive).

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Nozinan I have yet to find a PX finished whisky (except for the excellent Glenmo Sonalta PX) that is not sickly sweet. I had a bottle of Benriach 15 year old Pedro Jimenez finish that was cloyingly sweet. I paid over $100 for it and ended up giving it to a friend at around the three quarter mark. He gave me the remaining half of his Bruichladdich Laddie 10 year old and we were both much happier. He likes 'em super sweet, I don't.

about one year ago 0

Astroke commented

I really liked this one, but I have a sweet tooth and am a sucker for a Sherry finish. If you think this is sweet,try a sample of Tamdhu Batch Strength 2, much sweeter than the Deanston 10 and possibly the sweetest Single Malt I have ever tried. Luckily the high price is enough to keep me from another bottle.

about one year ago 0

Astroke commented

@MadSingleMalt Yes, good stuff. That 20 looks tempting as well. I read somewhere that there were only 1200 bottles of the 10 shipped to the US.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

That still sounds like plenty.

about one year ago 0

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