Deanston Distillery sits on the shores of the River Teith near Stirling, Scotland, in the southern part of the Highlands. It’s one of those lesser-known Scottish distilleries that still retains an aura of mystery, although after tasting the Deanston 18-Year-Old Cognac Cask Finished Single Malt, you will be looking forward to getting to know it better.
Deanston is a relatively new Scottish distillery, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in history. Before it began producing whisky in 1966, Deanston was already nearing its 200th anniversary as a textile factory. The Deanston Textile Mill was a significant one, technologically advanced when it was constructed and commercially successful through much of its life. At one point, it was powered by the second-largest waterwheel in the world, a 36-foot diameter affair nicknamed “Hercules.”
Yet by the middle of the 20th century, the textile industry in Scotland was on the decline. So the facility was converted to produce another local product that demands a good, reliable water source: whisky.
Deanston Distillery is known for a relatively light, fruity whisky with “farmy” characteristics—think hay, honey, grain, and a slightly animalistic organic quality. It uses only Scottish-grown malt, and distills its spirit on four large pot stills equipped with boil balls (those round onion-shaped chambers between still body and neck) and upward-sloping lyne arms for higher rectification. None of the Deanston single malts are chill filtered.
Good spirits and fine textiles aren’t the only gifts the River Tieth has given to Deanston. It’s also the only distillery in Scotland that makes claim to being totally self-sufficient in terms of energy, thanks to the onsite hydroelectric plant that powers distillery operations.
There aren’t many official Deanston bottlings out and about, although it seems like that may be changing. Deanston is owned by Burn Stewart, the same group that owns Bunnahabhain and Tobermorey. For years, most of its product ended up in blends, namely Scottish Leader. However, Distill Group bought Burn Stewart in 2013, and since then, there’s been an increased emphasis on official single malt bottlings— which, judging by the flavor of this release, is a very good thing.
This particular bottling, Deanston 18-Year-Old Cognac Cask Finished Single Malt, was finished for six years in cognac barrels. It’s a limited edition, and while it’s still available from some online retailers, the distillery seems to have replaced it with a more recently released 18-year-old expression aged entirely in bourbon casks.