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Style Take a look at: Scotch Can Now Be Completed in Tequila Casks. This Whisky Reveals How Nice That Can Be.

Style Take a look at: Scotch Can Now Be Completed in Tequila Casks. This Whisky Reveals How Nice That Can Be.

In 2019, scotch whisky got a significant upgrade when new guidelines were passed to allow a range of new casks to be used for maturation. That included tequila barrels, which while still a relative rarity have yielded some fantastic single malts. The latest of these is this new 15-year-old whisky from Deanston, which received a lengthy secondary maturation in barrels from Jalisco, Mexico.

As I’ve written about before, Deanston is an under-recognized distillery that makes some truly fantastic whisky. It’s located in the Highland region of Scotland, and is a relative newcomer on the scene. Whisky production began in 1969 on the site of an old cotton mill, with the first single malt released five years later in 1974. The distillery closed for a while in the 1980s, but since then has come roaring back to life with a core range of age statement and vintage malts that are worth seeking out. This new 15-year-old single malt is a limited-edition expression that was initially aged in hogsheads for 13 years before being finished in barrels used to age reposado and añejo tequila for a final two years. These barrels were used four to five times previously, according to the brand, resulting in a subtle but effective agave influence on the whisky.

If you’re expecting a whisky that tastes kind of like tequila, that’s absolutely not the case here. In fact, according to the Scotch Whisky Association guidelines, “regardless of the type of cask used, the resulting product must have the traditional color, taste, and aroma characteristics of scotch whisky.” So even though tequila, calvados, and even baiju barrels can be used to finish scotch now, the liquid still has to mostly taste like what it is. This 15-year-old Deanston is a really good whisky, with notes of tropical fruit and vanilla on the nose followed by brown sugar, roasted nuts, orange and lemon citrus, espresso bean, and a touch of caramelized agave on the palate. The whisky is non-chill filtered and bottled at 52.5 percent ABV with natural color.

Bourbon is still arguably the most regulated whiskey category—even though there are no restrictions on what types of barrels you can use for finishing (although maybe amburana should be excluded), you can’t add any color like you can to scotch. There are still a few types of barrels that are forbidden to use with scotch whisky, like casks used to age gin since that is not a spirit that is “traditionally” matured in wood. Still, opening up this enormously popular whisky category to even more cask finishes has unlocked a new world of flavor, and this single malt from Deanston is proof that this was indeed a good decision.

Score: 92

  • 100: Worth trading your first born for
  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet
  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram 
  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market
  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable
  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

Source: Robb Report

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