The Deanston Virgin Oak has been around for years. Yet I don’t have much of an opinion on it. I’ve never tried it nor have I heard much about it, other than that it’s super affordable (available for well below 30 euro in the Netherlands and Germany). But this review is about a much stronger sibling, the Deanston Virgin Oak Cask Strength Batch 1.
It was released just a few weeks ago. Much like the original Virgin Oak, this is a whisky without an age statement. What little information there is, has to do with the cask recipe. Initially matured in American oak ex-bourbon casks, the Deanston Virgin Oak Cask Strength Batch 1 was finished for 12 months in new American oak casks. That doesn’t seem like too long, but new oak can be very aggressive indeed.
After finally having located a Deanston that positively delighted me, I’m curious to try more from this distillery. Not entirely sure if the Deanston Virgin Oak Cask Strength Batch 1 is the way to go. I should probably try a few more ex-bourbon matured examples first. But this is what’s available to me.
According to the press release, the finishing in these new oak casks, “delivers intense and robust flavours of warming spices, candied fruit, green apple and citrus, whilst maintaining a perfect balance.” Master Blender Julieann Fernandez adds, “As always with Deanston drams, the waxy character is present and coats the mouth beautifully.”
I sure hope that’s true – waxy whisky is always a delight.
Deanston Virgin Oak Cask Strength Batch 1 (58.5%, OB, 2023)
Nose: The new oak is rather dominant. Too much almost. Loads of vanilla-flavoured foam blocks, a good amount of ripe bananas and plenty of custard. There’s a tinge of honeycomb, some white chocolate and a few slivers of orchard fruits (apple peel and pear skin, mostly). All the while oak spices linger throughout. Taste: Creamy mouthfeel. It arrives with the oak spices taking centre stage. Plenty of pepper, ginger, a few cloves. Hints of mulch too. There is an underlying sweetness, highlighted by honey and banana pudding. Just a sliver of beeswax. Finish: Medium length. Lingering oak spices. Subtle sweetness.
Should we conclude the virgin oak grabbed the steering wheel a little too agressively? Probably, yes. The perceived youthfulness of the Deanston Virgin Oak Cask Strength could have something to do with it as well. It's flavourful, yet maybe a tad too one-note.