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Deanston Virgin Oak

Average score from 9 reviews and 11 ratings 83

Deanston Virgin Oak

Product details

  • Brand: Deanston
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.3%

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Deanston Virgin Oak

I hesitated about writing another review of Deanston Virgin Oak but noticed that the last review written was by Cricklewood some four years ago. Perhaps an update would be justified. It appears that the process behind this whisky is pretty much the same: first aged in bourbon casks (from a cooperage in Kentucky) then finished in virgin oak for an undisclosed period of time. It is still bottled at 46.3% and is still un-chillfiltered. In my opinion the malt still offers a lot for an entry level expression in Deanston's line of single malts.

Color: Full Amber

Nose: Malty with honey and lemon zest to the front then apple pie in the oven; bananas and lots of vanilla. Something spicy buzzing away in the background.

Palate: Light body with nice mouth feel. Barley sugars and intensifying spices (cloves, cinnamon) bring out the apple pie notes that were found on the nose. The virgin oak influence, other than the vanilla punch, is for the most part tame allowing the other flavors (mostly soft fruit) to show themselves. A late dose of tannin dries things out.

Finish: A bit dry and not particularly long though enjoyable enough.


As mentioned in part I, all these whiskys were evaluated blind during my last club meeting.

This is from a recent batch with the new livery and bottle shape. Deanston has been receiving a lot more attention of late. I believe that much like Bunnahabhain a few years ago owners Burns Stewart injected a good amount of capital in their operations. In order to implement a better cask management policy as well as diverting better quality casks to their OB’s rather than selling off a big proportion to brokers.

This release is aged in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in virgin oak. Sadly little info exists about age and length of maturation.

Nose: Starts of with a bit of pineapple, creamy yogurt & pears. There's a sweet transition to Starburst candy & vanilla, rising pastries or bread dough. It's pleasant and almost bourbon like until it moves towards a slightly green profile, almost like angelica or rhubarb.

Palate: Sweet and slightly fizzy/nippy bite of alcohol, brown sugar, sultanas and loads of milk chocolate/cafe latte. There's a smidge of tropical fruits, in the vein of rhum or Pina colada sitting in a base of sweetened porridge.

Finish: malty, sweet and oaky a bit of a burn and that lingering milk chocolate.

I took a shine to this whisky, it's easygoing but has enough little twists to make it interesting, delivered at a proper abv too. In our little group this performed on par with a Benriach 15 which was the one "non-budget" whisky inserted in the group.

@cricklewood I'm sure the Deanston is a lot cheaper than the Benriach 15. If it is on a par with the Benriach I will be on the lookout for a bottle. I see it gets good marks from several other very reliable reviewers. Very useful review. Thanks.

My friend gave me a bottle of Deanston VO. My first impression is that it's half bourbon half scotch, very little virgin oak influences. At first I almost said "it's a fake scotch, should be called bourbon instead" but on second sipping it developed more towards scotch. The only other "virgin oak" that I tried (and really enjoyed) are Glenmorangie Ealanta and Kavalan Podium. These are the real scotch (even though Kavalan is from Taiwan).


The reviewed bottle is owned by @Maddie, is 95% full, and has been open for 3 years-- yeah, my sister has a lot of bottles of whisky open in her house. Deanston Virgin Oak has no age statement and is not chill-filtered. I have sampled this whisky previously on several other occasions over several years as well at the current time

Nose: medium and high-pitched sharply edged barley flavours, showing prominent lemon citrus. The barley shows both grassy and cereal qualities. New wood flavours are light and restricted to a little vanilla and a trace of natural caramel. Water added raises the pitch and melds the flavours in a very attractive way. I prefer the nose of this long opened bottle with a little water added. Score: 22/25

Taste: the nose flavours translate well to the palate. The new oak influence remains light, but it does show more on the palate than it does on the nose. Water added bundles the flavours. Score: 21/25

Finish: this old bottle goes sour late. I remember it being better balanced in the earlier stages of the bottle being opened. Water added continues the water-added bundled palatal flavours. Score: 20/25

Balance: very good in the nose; good balance thereafter. Score: 21/25

Total Sequential Score: 84/100 points


Strength: very good strength of flavours, despite this being simple barley whisky. Score: 22/25

Quality: nice barley flavours with a touch of oak. Score: 21.5/25

Variety: adequate variety for a basic barley-flavoured whisky. Score: 21/25

Harmony: good harmony in general for a very basic barley-malt whisky. Score: 21/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 85.5/100 points


Comment: Deanston Virgin Oak has to be either a new oak finish or aging in toasted and not charred new oak barrels. Complete aging in new charred oak barrels for even 5 years would have resulted in much much more oak influence than is encountered here

I have always liked Deanston Virgin Oak, though this old bottle is not as good now as it was when first opened. When first opened I would have rated this maybe 2 points higher than I do now


after much searching, I have found this whisky is one that blends well with both rye and corn whiskies. Although it is young, it adds body and completes the blend in a replication of Wiser's Legacy when used with Lot No. 40 and Highwood Ninety 20 YO. Not much on its own, but stellar when blended in the proper ratio.

Yes, @paddockjudge, I have tasted your most excellent Wiser's Legacy replica home-blend on what, three occasions now? It is very close to the taste of the original. I am sure that I could enjoy that blending exercise at least one or two more times in the future.


I like to try everything, because that's how one ought to live even if they do enjoy one thing in particular and tend to stay with that; surprise yourself and take the good with the bad and that's how you learn.

This is my first review on this site so that summarizes my outlook even though I don't have as much experience as others especially in the higher-quality and priced whiskies; I live in Northwestern Ontario and have a limited shelf to choose from and have tried nearly all but the top-tier/high price boxed whiskies and know already my favorites from the value brands.

I graduated to scotch a few years ago through a serendipitous combination of no longer being able to stomach most hard liquor likely due to a hereditary crohn's disease of the digestive system that two family members have and the bland and repetitive 'drinking to get drunk' syndrome that involved cheaper and harsher working materials. Good scotch, I found, was 'easier' on me, as well it tasted smoother and was quite much more enjoyable than everything else and I immediately began enjoying 'scotch neat'.

Anyway, enough with the backstory and on to the review. I picked this bottle up for $45.50 in a cardboard exterior which was on sale from $49.50; I was eyeing up my regulars (Dewar's, Grants) when this one caught my eye and I bought it.

I learned how to sniff and taste a whisky from youtube videos. I'm in no way a professional but I'd like to say I have some experience as a hobbyist. ;)

Nose: As a Canadian, I assure you the closest thing to this smell is birchbark lit on fire as kindling.

Palate: A stinging softness, like sedated yellowjackets on your tongue not trying very hard yet still tasting very much like live, liquid wasps who really don't mean any harm by living under your patio.

Finish: Will definitely finish this bottle. It's very light and warm and doesn't make a huge fuss; it'll easily slide down and sit and behave over an evening without needing sugary or carbonated accompaniment.

Balance: Very minor motor impairment and mental faculties remain acute. Remember to drink responsibly!

@Fairbairn, welcome to Connosr and congratulations on your first Connosr review!

I've had some Deanston Virgin Oak, and liked it similarly as you have. Next time I try some I'll look for the 'sedated yellowjackets on (my) tongue'.

Go Old Fort William and Kakabeka Falls!...though the last time I was there was 1977.

I wish we could "thumbs up" a review.


Deanston Virgin Oak was simple and fresh dram. Made with young whisky, finished in new oak casks from Kentucky. The young age doesn't show too much. At least not in a bad way.

I actually was a bit skeptic about Deanston Virgin Oak. Fearing that the palate is too young and fruity for me. Fortunately I was wrong. Deanston Virgin Oak is a nice example freshness in balance.

It is young but it isn't too stingy, it's fresh! Even the nose keeps the freshness cool, without making it too crispy. Strong scent of barley really helps there.

Deanston Virgin Oak is like Lolita. The 1997 version directed by Adrian Lyne, because Jeremy Irons has a good whisky tone in his voice. The new version is just as good as Kubrick's. It demonstrates that young version can be good. Like Deanston Virgin Oak.

Nose: Very tenderly but freshly fruity, citrus fruits start the show. Then barley starts to dominate nicely. Hints of honey.

Palate: Sweet and creamy toffee tastes very fresh, might have some vanilla. Tingling oak feels very dry at the back of your throat.

Finish: Bit sweet but mostly dry oak continues to linger. Mildly spicy.

Overall: Very simple but nice dram. New oak is in good balance.

Thank you for a very nice review, @Rantavahti. I've always liked Deanston Virgin Oak quite a lot. It IS nicely proportioned.

I've never seen estimates of just how old Deanston Virgin Oak actually is, but by, say, Stranahan's malt standards, it is probably "old". It takes a lot of care with new oak mixed with barley whisky to keep the oak in proportion. That's what master distillers are for, saying when a cask is ready, and not allowing them to get overaged.

Thanks for the correction, was good when I tasted it and still is :)

I also was wondering about the age and tried to Google it. I've only seen the term "young" but nothing concrete about the age.


Meandering thru the plethora of budget whiskies, I run in to this. I looked at the label: no color added, non- chilled filtered, 46.3% abv for $25.99... Ok, "you got my attention." There are not too many reviews out there for this SM. So, I took a leap of faith and purchased it at my local TotalWine. This is a simple whisky. However, its very well done. Sweet, cereal barley, herbal, lemon merengue,yeasty, oily texture, lots of vanilla. With a name like Deanston Virgin Oak, you would think that it would have enough oak to build a tree house, but instead, its just sufficient. Adding a teaspoon of water, It transforms into a butter- cream delight. First opened, there was some noticeable alcohol burn to it, but this is a no age statement. I read somewhere that it's contains 8-10 yr old malts. Decant the sucker for 6 hours and watch it settle like a nice warm sunset in Key West. Easily an every day dram.

In conclusion, The fellows at Deanston are really paying attention to the emerging whisky trend. And they are giving you all that packaged at a low,low price point. Yes it lacks complexity, but when the simplest of things are done with quality ingredients,it could turn out to be a marvel in its own right.

Nice review; have acquired my first and only bottle through a combination of extremely fortuitous circumstances, so I'm opening it after I return from a trip. It'll be my reward for being patient. I will add just two or three drops of water, as the 92.6 proof will have some alcohol burn.

Yes, it's a good idea to add a little water. I recently purchased another bottle of this fine dram and I added 1 teaspoon. That should get rid-off the edge.


Found this interesting NAS Scotch for $30 USD. I decided to pick it up after recently trying the Bowmore Legend, to compare NAS malts.

The Bowmore Legend was a very predictable light-Islay flavor. Pretty good but not really worth reviewing beyond saying that it's worth the price, if you like Islay (which I do.)

This Deanston is more intriguing. The nose is a noticeable vanilla, with hints of smoke here and there. Compared to the usual "types" of sweetness in Scotch, like sherry, fruit, caramel, etc, the vanilla is a nice alternative, and the smoke helps it not to be overbearing.

The palate is a little spicier than the nose gives away. Some others have described it as citrusy, but to me it tastes more of that sea-salt found in Bunnahabhain 12 or even Talisker. It is surprisingly salty for a non-Islay/Island scotch, and probably the weakest part of the drink. It is also somewhat "thin" and lacks the creaminess/oiliness of some drams.

Thankfully, the finish is just as nice as the nose! It is long, and very warming. The sweetness comes out a tad towards the end as well.

Definitely worth trying at least once. I'm bumping up the score five points due to the GREAT price. You can sort of tell it's a cheaper NAS, as it doesn't have a lot of depth, but it's unique.


I bought this bottle quite some time ago, and served it at the office, and at a tasting some while back - but have never sat and appreciated it to review. So it has had quite a bit of time in contact with air.

A very light golden honey colour. On the nose you get clean, fresh malt, lemon citrus, very sweet vanilla. Very little depth to the nose but sweet and pleasant.

In the mouth, just as sweet, like brown sugar, vanilla, and a lot of citrus. Without knowing it was a Highland finished in virgin oak (freshly charred new oak barrels from Bardstown KY) I would have said it was a Speyside that had spent less than 8 years in bourbon but finished for a wee bit in a sherry cask (though the light colour would prove that wrong). A little water tames the sweetness and brings forward some more of the malt and citrus.

Finish is medium length. I do like this - it's very well balanced and makes for a nice light breezy whisky - a good choice for a summer afternoon. Some of those at the office who dislike whisky tried it and loved it, and I can see why. Jim Murray says "Don't expect this to taste anything like Scotch", but I wouldn't go that far. I would have preferred a little more complexity, but if you're going to buy something that says "Virgin Oak", you're not going to get that, I suppose. By the way, this is a very good deal - about $40CDN I think, though I no longer see it at the LCBO.

Enjoy the rest of that bottle 'talexander'...the listing is indeed gone from the LCBO (though, like the missing Glenfarclas 15, it was never listed as 'discontinued' so it hopefully will (should) come back to LCBO shelves. One of the best value bottles in Ontario, IMHO.

Really appreciate the positive review. As this single malt is priced at only $26 at the local Total Wine & Liquor here in southeast Florida, I think I'll give it a go.


One of the least expensive malts at the LCBO, Deanston is one of those rare cases where we aren't being charged twice what people are paying in the US for a whisky. The information on the label is encouraging: un-chillfiltered, containing only water, barley, and yeast. (Nice to see an ingredients list on the bottle. Shouldn't this be mandatory?) However there is no age statement, and the carton even goes so far as to mention that the bottle is a vatting of young whiskies. Bearing all that in mind, here is what I find when I pour a glass:

Sharp, sweet, grassy aroma. Hints of fruit (from sherry casks?). A touch of smoke but not peat; more like coal smoke, perhaps. Oak is present in the vanilla notes but not nearly as much as you would expect; doesn't exactly scream "bourbon" either.

Flavour starts off mellow but picks up. Kind of tastes like a really robust blend; has that "bit of everything" aspect, without really standing out in any particular area. Warm and spicy, then fruity-sweet. A dried grass/floral element also dances about. Light-bodied. Oak doesn't really play a part until near the end, where the whisky sort of grips the mouth. Finishes gently with a bit of a sour fruit flavour.

Overall a pretty decent whisky, but lacking the fullness and roundness of the more well-aged alternatives at this price. Has quite a mellow profile but still zingy with youth

I just tried my first bottle of Deanston Virgin Oak and was very pleasantly surprised! Being less expensive than some of the "Glens" I'm used to I assumed it would be blah, biting and unexciting. My assumption was wrong. It has a light citrus smell to the nose and a certain sweetness to it. The taste radiates a slight honey taste which remains in the mouth. Very smooth. Would recommend to someone just starting out with the single-malt experience.

I agree with you. I got a bottle from the States and this whisky is very good for the evident young age. Would too sums it up as a top-level blend (it isn't). And the vanilla is lovely.

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