Archives Butterflies from the USA Deanston 21 Year (1997)

Scotch Whisky Review #455: Archives Butterflies from the USA Deanston 21 Year (1997)

Distillery: Deanston.

Bottler: Archives / Whiskybase.

Region: Highland.

Age: 21 Year. Distilled on December 10th, 1997. Bottled August 5th, 2019.

ABV: 52.7%

Price: $200.

Color: 0.8, Old Gold. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

Nose: Things are a little simple here on the nose but that certainly is not a bad thing. There’s a lovely fruity-sweetness in the form of honeydew melon and some freshly baked pastries. A little bit of fresh cut grass/garden herbs also comes in.

Palate: Even at full bore, this was really easy to drink. There’s a bit of chewiness to it with a mouthfeel I might expect from a lightly peated whisky or even something from one of the famed “worm tub” distilleries. There’s a bit of “farminess” with barnyard funk and hay that is followed up with some sweeter notes in wild honey and overripe honeydew melon. After seeing comments from Deanston’s master distiller the other day about how Deanston should be waxy, I did go look for wax. I did find some, but perhaps not the type of wax that comes to mind when I’m thinking “waxy whisky”. Instead of a candlewax or beeswax, I got something that reminded me a lot of the waxiness from a Laffy Taffy than anything. After adding a couple of water, the chewy mouthfeel gets suppressed and there isn’t really anything that gets added in its stead. A bit of vanilla perhaps comes out but it certainly was better at full strength.

Finish: Medium in length. Vanilla custard, a bit of barnyard funk, and some honeydew are what come through.

Conclusion: I’ve said it before but the guys over at Whiskybase that select casks for the Archives line really know what they’re doing. This Deanston selection is really well balanced and offers aspects that really surprised me. The chewier mouthfeel was a lot of fun, the barnyard funk is reminiscent of older styles of Highland whisky, and the fruitier notes are just on point. The bit of wax, even though it is different, is a nice touch. This is an odd dram where adding any water seems to make it worse, so I would recommend just sticking to drinking it neat. Would I buy another bottle? If my collection were any smaller than it is, absolutely.

Final Score: 86.

Scotch Whisky Review #455, Highland Review #92, Whisky Network Review #612

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
  • 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
  • 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
  • 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
  • 70-74: Alright, solid and 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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