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Deanston: The best scotch you’ve never tried
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Deanston: The best scotch you’ve never tried

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Mark Feit during a visit to Scotland

Mark Feit during a visit to Scotland, here at the Balvenie distillery.

One of the downsides of collecting scotch as well as drinking it is buying bottles that sit on the shelf in the vault for a while before opening, leaving no opportunity to buy more if they’re a stunner. That’s the case with this month’s malt, Deanston 2008 Bordeaux Red Wine Cask Matured.

The Deanston Distillery sits nestled among the trees next to the River Tieth about 30 miles north of Glasgow, Scotland. The distillery was built in 1785 as a cotton mill, only producing scotch since 1966. Deanston is the only distillery entirely energy self-sufficient, courtesy of a hydro-electric facility on site. It mainly produced scotch for blending until a downturn in the industry forced the stills silent in 1982. A purchase by Burn Stewart (now Distell Group, which also owns Bunnahabhain and Tobermory/Ledaig) in 1990 restarted the stills.

My father, Bob Feit, and I stopped at Deanston on our last trip to Scotland, a fantastic pre-COVID tour in May of 2019. I had only tried the Virgin Oak bottling of Deanston prior to that (the only Deanston I do not care for). One of the best parts of visiting Scotch distilleries is when the staff invite you for a wee sample of the bottles available at the shop. I fell in love with several of their bottlings that day, most notably the hand fill 15-year French oak bottle, which can coincidentally be purchased on Deanston’s website and shipped here.

But after that visit, I purchased, and tried, more of Deanston’s creative cask finishes. These included a 19-year finished in Muscat wine casks, a 2006 Cream Sherry finish (which I LOVE), and one of the best scotches we’ve shared at our Scotch Club, a now discontinued 30-year finished in Oloroso sherry casks. It was released in 2010, so it contains some of that first spirit produced in 1990 when the distillery was restarted.

A relatively young scotch, this bottle was aged for nine years in barrels that previously held the flavorful French red. This lends the whisky some flavors similar to a sherry cask. I think I picked up this bottle in 2019 after seeing it sit on the shelf for six months or so. I only recently tried a dram, at The Celtic Ranch in Weston Missouri, near Kansas City. If you’re ever there visiting, nestled in the back of the shop is the Whisky Snug, one of the preeminent whiskey/whisky bars in the region. Bottled at a hefty cask strength of 58.7%, it can be sipped neat, but I will usually add a healthy dose of water to it.

Whisky news and notes

GlenAllachie, which we rarely see in Nebraska, is releasing a red wine-finished scotch called Bolgheri Superiore. I had to look it up – it’s an Italian red. Hot on the heels of the incredibly good Secret Highland 19-year, Trader Joe’s will release a 14-year single malt from a rarely heard from distillery, Mannochmore. If it’s half as good as the sold out 19-year that was available in February, it’ll be great. Until next time, sláinte!

The author, Mark Feit, is a Certified Whisky Ambassador and has visited 57 distilleries in Scotland with his father, Bob. You can reach Mark at markfeit@live.com.

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