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Deanston – Virgin Oak

Flavor AND Value – What a Concept! 

Value means different things to different people. For me, perceived value in whisky is a correlation of taste, price and experience. Unless you have sampled something beforehand or gotten a recommendation from a reviewer or friend, price is the only attribute that is known BEFORE buying a bottle. Just going by price alone won’t guarantee the best value.

I want to get my money’s worth from anything I buy, including whisky. The taste must be enjoyable and pleasing. It gets a little tricky when it comes to the value of my experience – the esoteric moment of sampling the whisky. These are the moments where I ponder the complexity, depth and overall impression. Again, this is different for everyone but my experience with the whisky is a big part of how I value it. The final verdict is when all three come together. Then, I’m happy.

If you happen to like a certain whisky expression, it is reasonable to explore the distillery’s other offerings. More times than not, we tend to go towards the older, pricier end of the portfolio. But what about the entry level bottle? This was my route to Deanston Virgin Oak.

The 12 year old  was my first Deanston exposure and I really liked it. After some online chatter from my scotch buddies I bought a bottle of the Virgin Oak to see what all the fuss was about. I had info on taste (based on my experience with the 12 YO and recommendations) and the price was inexpensive at $32. Things were looking promising. After a sampling or two it was easy to say that Deanston Virgin Oak met all my criteria for a great value whisky.

Deanston Virgin Oak – a Dram Good Value

Distillery: Deanston Distillery
Expression: Virgin Oak
Origin: Western Highlands
ABV: 46.3%
Age: NAS
Cask: 1st – Bourbon / 2nd – Virgin oak for last six months of maturation.
Fun Fact: Deanston Distillery is a beautiful example of sustainability as they produce electricity from electrical turbines in the River Teith.

Sampling it neat….
Color: Natural Color – Light Amber
Nose: Lightly waxy. Honey and lemon with vanilla.
Palate: Sweetness of tart, baked apples with ginger and clove spices. Clean, light, and crisp.
Finish: Medium long, spicy finish with definite fresh oak wood and black tea tannin.

First of all, how about that ABV!?! (slow clap here) Most entry level single malts are a base 40%. Deanston Virgin Oak, as does most of their range, comes in at 46.3% ABV. That gets big points with me. There is a lovely round, viscous mouth feel without torching alcohol fumes.

The nose starts with an earthy, slightly sour honeycomb with hints of wax or glue. This is followed by fresh lemon and a hint of vanilla.

The taste centers around the sweetness and spiciness of a cooked apple pie. With hints of ginger and clove, it’s as if the apples have been soaked in lemon water before cooking so their flavor is still fresh and bright.

The finish hangs around on the back of the tongue with a vibrant spice turning into a black tea.

With a little water… More grass and fresh oak on the nose. Sweetness is mellowed out but the spice is far more pronounced. Finish still hangs on well though not as spicy at the end. All in all, it holds very well with water.

Final Notes:

Depending on your location, a bottle of the Deanston Virgin Oak is $28 to $35. That pricing is more in line with lower level blends! One would be hard pressed to find a single malt for that price that had as much taste, much less present at 46.3% ABV.

So given my definition of value, the Deanston Virgin Oak gets a place on my shelf at all times. Taste, price and my experience with its complex and delightful layers makes this a favorite expression. It has the depth of flavor from the ex-Bourbon casks yet a fresh edge from the virgin wood. This whisky gives you something to ponder, sip by sip.

Have you had this dram? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!

Slainte, Y’all

Links to some of my favorite YouTubers for their reviews on Deanston Virgin Oak

Scotch 4 Dummies – Deanston Flight Comparison
Whiskey Vault – Comparison with Deanston 12


Please remember: These comments are just my opinion. We all have our own distinct flavor profiles. What one person loves may not be special to another. That’s beauty about the vast number of expressions – there is something for everyone. Explore and find what you like!

Lee Ann

Slàinte, Y’all! Life in Louisiana. A dram of scotch whisky. Adventures from Swamp to Scotland and the world.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Michael Porter

    Great review! I completely agree. This is a great whisky, and I love seeing the care and quality Deanston puts into their entry level malt.

  2. Scotch 4 Dummies

    Love this blog and all that you’re doing. Really great read and perfect explanation. If you hurry, Big Red has it for $16 – that’s a steal!

  3. Malcolm Phillips

    Hello Y’all! First off, love your review. Read it with a bit of Deanston 12yr in hand. At the moment I am out of my fav, Virgin Oak…..but that should be rectified shortly. There are just two more pours lift in the 12yr….and truth be known, if I had to choose between the two….I’d buy the Virgin Oak every time.

    I came across your name a few times….then caught sight on links to the BB. Then last night I viewed your sit down with Roy. Congratulations on your schooling on Islay. Being a detail freak, I’m more the jealous…..maybe whisky bottle green with envy! But I settle for fruit of this experience in your up coming blog post.

    Well I shall settle back with this bottle, and put it to bed, while enjoying a good book.

    Slainte Y’all


    1. Lee Ann

      Malcolm! Thanks so much for your note and I’m delighted you like the review.
      My apologies for the lateness in responding, I was in Scotland and am terribly late in all things blog! The Islay Whisky Academy was incredible and I’m working on a recap post now to publish soon. Roy is an absolute treasure and it was a delight to be on his show. I do hope you have gotten another bottle of Deanston Virgin Oak by now.;) Thanks again for the comment and please stay tuned to more fun reads!

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