deanston 15 years tequila cask finish

Deanston 15 Years Tequila Cask Finish (2023)

Deanston and I, we’re not the best of friends. I’ve not yet found the one release that made me swoon. (Two of the worst-rated whiskies on this website are from Deanston.) In short, there hasn’t been much incentive to explore the distillery further. But the new Deanston 15 Years Tequila Cask Finish sounded interesting, so here we are.

There haven’t been many tequila cask finished Scotch whiskies yet either. This makes sense considering the use of tequila casks has only been legal since mid-2019. Nevertheless, I’ve reviewed a number of them, including whiskies from Smokehead and Chivas Regal. And I’ve also published my thoughts on a Lagavulin finished in mezcal casks.

There’s not much word on the length of the finish applied to the Deanston 15 Years Tequila Cask Finish. Well, I say not much, but I mean none. Some other information is shared on the Deanston website. Here’s a blurb:

“The tequila used to create this expression originally held high-quality 100% agave tequila produced from 7-8 year-old Agave tequilana var. Weber (blue agave) grown exclusively in the Altos (Highlands) region of Jalisco.”

That may sound transparent and interesting if you’re not familiar with tequila, but is mostly generic information. It could be used to describe many of the tequila brands available.

Firstly, the fact that the tequila casks were previously used to mature 100% agave tequila is insignificant. The other option would’ve been mixto tequilas, required to include only 51% blue agave. The other 49% can be made from cane or high fructose corn syrup. It would’ve been almost reprehensible had they used those kinds of casks for the Deanston 15 Years Tequila Finish.

Secondly, all tequila must be made from blue Weber agave, so nothing special there either. Thirdly, it is very common for blue Weber agave to be harvested after 7 or 8 years. That’s generally the age they reach maturity. Fourthly, it’s not really exceptional for tequila to come from the Highlands region. And opinions differ on how much influence it has on the flavour of tequila.

The Deanston website continues: “The casks held the same style of tequila for four to five fills, being disgorged both as Reposado (aged for just under one year) and Añejo (aged up to 3 years).”

This doesn’t sound like something I would advertise. Firstly, again, most aged tequila falls either in the Reposado or Añejo category, so nothing special there. But from a whisky drinker’s perspective, what stands out is the number of refills. Granted, all together that still makes the casks relatively young, and there should be enough life left in them, but still…

Long story short, while Deanston seems relatively transparent, that’s not really the case. This 15-year-old was finished in pretty standard tequila casks, and that’s all there is to know. Now, flavour-wise, the proof is in the pudding. Thanks for bearing with me so far, but let’s get to the tasting notes. Finally.

deanston 15 years tequila cask finish closeup

Deanston 15 Years Tequila Cask Finish (52.5%, OB, 2023)

Nose: Very light. Shy almost. Quite cereal forward at first, and a touch of melted butter, fresh oak, tinned pineapple and freshly cut grass too. Even somewhat herbacious. And there’s some fruity, creamy sweetness here that I might attribute to the tequila cask, but I couldn’t tell you for sure.
Taste: A whisper of white pepper, ginger and chalk, accompanied by stewed apples, charred oak, toasted almonds and a soft bitterness. Fruitier notes like lemon pith and mango keep rather quiet and stay in the background.
Finish: Medium length. Oak spices, a touch of citrus, and macadamia nuts.

I can appreciate the experiment, but the result is not the most inspiring, especially not at the current price tag. A pity, I really wanted to like this more. Still looking for that one exceptional Deanston. If anyone has any tips...

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