Blind Tasting #8: Deanston 8 Years Old Red Wine Cask
I’ve never before encountered such a divisive whisky as the eighth sample of the Blind Tasting Competition. While some adored this dram, for me it was one of my least favourite whiskies I’ve tasted this entire year. Something was just off.
While nosing and tasting and trying to guess what it was that I had in my glass, I could at least rule out all of Speyside. Since we tasted a Glenburgie yesterday, we won’t be having another Speysider today. It’s one of the rules in this competition: never a whisky from the same region twice in a row.
From tasting it, it was quite clear that it was a young, immature whisky. That means a high alcohol percentage and relative low age. Some sort of exotic cask type was also used, which is why it’s a bit strange that I went for a Tomatin in the end. I did it because young Tomatin tends to be quite aggressive as well at cask strength. Furthermore, I guessed it to be 10 years old at 58 percent. This is what it turned out to be.
Deanston 8 Years Old Red Wine Cask (57,8%, OB ‘Hand-filled @ Distillery’)
Nose: Some wood polish, but also vibrant red fruits, lots of balsamic, a whiff of straw, and some cocoa powder as well. Sulphur. Funky. Too funky. Some rancid butter notes and sour, sweaty feet. Something is very wrong here.
Taste: A warming and spicy arrival, with cloves and pepper. Also sour cherries, cassis. Dry and oaky and bitter too. Unpolished and immature.
Finish: Long, spicy, dry and fading red fruits.
A complete an utter lack of balance as a whole, as well as an immature and aggressive palate. It’s as if there was a few liters of wine gone bad in the cask. I couldn’t overlook the funkiness, whereas others made no mention of it all, and absolutely loved it. By the way, I wasn’t alone in my negative assessment of this whisky, there were others participants that disliked it vehemently.
I’ve never encountered a whisky that elicited such different reactions. But that’s what makes this fun, right?
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.