Deanston Virgin Oak Review

Deanston Virgin Oak Review

Deanston Virgin Oak is the first time I’ve really sat down and explored a Deanston whisky over an extended period of time… and I liked it. Though to be upfront I didn’t care for it on my first taste. I thought it was just ok, thought it was a rather standard Speyside so I forgot about it for a bit. A couple weeks later it was great.

In Deanston’s Words: Deanston Virgin Oak

“This beautiful malt is first matured in ex-bourbon casks,from a family run cooperage in Kentucky, giving the liquid a wonderful zesty character. It is then finished in new oak barrels, which add subtle spiced aromas to the whisky.”

The “opening” of a whisky is fairly common; the first couple glasses are good, but not killer, and then a couple weeks later it’s oxidized a bit and has become awesome. It seems to happen far less with Speyside whiskies, maybe it’s the new oak here, but it’s fairly common with first-fill sherry barreled Scotch, bourbon and old whisk(e)y. Anyway, for the rest of the story scroll on down to the Deanston Virgin Oak review below to see what I’m yakking on about.

Deanston Virgin Oak Info

Region: Highlands, Scotland (Midlands / Southern Highlands)

Distiller: Deanston
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon & Virgin Oak
Age: NAS
ABV: 46.3%

Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $33

Deanston Virgin Oak Review

Golden honey

Earthy malt, orchard fruit, honey, vanilla cupcakes, hazelnuts and light touches of melon, caramel and nutmeg. I usually feel rather “meh” about Speyside whiskies, but this… this is nice.

Earthy malt, orchard fruit, honey, vanilla frosting / sugary sweetness and some bits of banana chips, nutmeg and toffee. Richer and heavier than the aroma, it’s also quite nice.

Long sweet fade out that’s filled with fruit and malt before it turns to a cinnamon ghost.

Nice sense of balance, full body and an oily feel.

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of ex-bourbon Speyside whisky. So much of it comes across like minor variations of the the same honied fruit and lightly malty theme that it gets monotonous after a while and you see why sherry casks as so important. This little Deanston Virgin Oak follows in that same tradition, but it comes across like a fuller richer version of that theme with more depth and weight to it.

The aroma of the Deanston Virgin Oak drifts out of the glass as a sweet and earthy, almost farmy, delivery of malt, but a bit light compared to what comes next. The palate follows suite but with more of the earthy malt and a bit less of the fruit. The finish combines the two evenly before moving to a nice cinnamon heavy spice profile.

Deanston Virgin Oak is the little Speyside that could and being bottled at 46.3% and NCF is fantastic; it’s the minimum something should be bottled in my mind. More folks should follow the steps of Burn Stewart Distillers – it’s the way to treat a malt.

SCORE: 86/100 (B)

Deanston Virgin Oak Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 86
  • Palate - 87
  • Finish - 87
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 87


Deanston Virgin Oak is good whisky, definitley worth a try.

Deanston Virgin Oak Label


Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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3 Responses to Deanston Virgin Oak Review

  1. I enjoyed my first bottle of this, and I totally agree on the NCF and proof. A great bottle for a bourbon lover to jump into the world of single malt.

  2. I really liked this when they first released it a couple of years back and were selling it for a song ($25). I even sent them a mail to say how much I enjoyed it (though I never got a reply). Considering how “average” (I’m being nice here) their old expressions were, this was a very pleasant surprise. It’s almost twice the price now here, but I would still recommend it. A great example of what first-fill American oak can do for a (relatively) delicate Scotch malt. It’s a long way from Speyside though Josh; it’s barely across the Lowland/Highland line.

    • Thanks for sharing Martin and I agree. I’ve had some of the old Deanston and it was, as you say, “average”. NOt sure why I listed it as Speyside, you’re correct, I always check Malt Madness for their classification of the distillery and they have it listed as a “Midland (Southern Highland)”. Updated, cheers!

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