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.
Distillery: Deanston Distillery
Expression: Virgin Oak
Origin: Western Highlands
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.
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!
Links to some of my favorite YouTubers for their reviews on Deanston Virgin Oak