Deanston 20 Year Oloroso Sherry

Scotch Whisky Review #175: A “Fragile” Mystery

This is my first stab at a mystery dram and I’m pretty excited to see how wrong I’ll end up being! No information was provided about this whisky, just a bottle with a fragile sticker on it. Not a whole lot to say so let’s just jump on in!

Color: 1.3, Russet/Muscat. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

Nose: (according to the wife) Smells really tasty. It’s sweet with a lot of fresh citrus (she said 귤 which can really be any one of clementine, mandarin, or tangerine) and a bit of persimmon. There’s a bready note hanging around, which reminder her of sourdough, along with some freshly cut oak.

Palate: She wasn’t wrong about this being tasty. It’s sweet and slightly sherried from the onset. There’s a lovely note of spiced oranges and wild honey. The combination of the two remind me of Grand Marnier, only with the sweetness dialed back quite a bit. The bready sourdough note also pops on through. With a few droplets of water, a very fresh and sharp pear note pops out along with a slightly under-ripe persimmon and a very sweet and zesty orange. The Grand Marnier note is also present. With a few more droplets of water, there is a very sweet white bread along with even more of the very sweet oranges (at this point I’m reminded heavily of navel oranges), and a lot of honey. It’s almost like drinking a very thick orange juice, if that was a thing.

Finish: Medium. There’s a little bit of heat at first but that goes away after adding a bit of water. There’s a bit of oak spice along with something earthy. What lingers the longest though is the spiced orange/Grand Marnier note.

Guess: Something from a Speyside distillery, probably about 15 years of age, aged in ex-Sherry. Because of all the orange notes, I’m gonna guess it’s a Macallan but probably from an independent bottler.

Reveal: Deanston 20 Year Oloroso Cask

Distillery: Deanston

Region: Highland

Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry

ABV: 55.5%

Age: 20 year

Conclusion: Oh man, I was off the mark by a little bit there. The only part I got right was that it was sherried! Still, this is an absolute fantastic whisky. It starts off very inviting with the sweet notes of fresh citrus with that little bit of sourdough giving it some depth. The palate started off with some fantastic spiced orange and wild honey notes that really evolved as little bits of water opened up it up. The finish was nice, having that Grand Marnier/spiced orange note linger for a little bit made me want to go in for the next sip. Would I buy a bottle? If I could find one, absolutely!

Final Score: 85.

Scotch Whisky Review #175, Highland Whisky Review #38, Whisky Network Review #241

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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