We couldn’t visit the festival due to other whisky plans however thankfully there were a few bottles available in the distillery shop so it didn’t take much deliberating to pop along and pick one up.
The Deanston 2013 Festival Edition is a typical whisky festival out-turn i.e. full strength and small numbers. It’s from a single cask, bottled at cask strength (57.1%) and limited to 312 bottles worldwide. The bottle label doesn’t tell you much more but I checked at the distillery and they confirmed it’s a 12-year old from a Bourbon cask.
So, with no further delay it’s on to the tasting notes.
Golden straw, honey yellow.
Fresh, sweet with vanilla and a hint of spice. As the glass warmed in my hand a softer sweetness appeared (baked apples). Definitely a young aroma, though not harsh.
Initial taste is burnt sugar, a hint of smoke coming through and a very dry finish. When taken neat, the predominant sensation is sharpness – like chewing tacks the spirit gives your mouth a prickly sensation throughout, lasting long after the finish. As expected, water softens the drink and brings out more of the tobacco / leathery notes. I didn’t detect any new flavours, just an adjustment of the levels of the existing ones. The finish is still very dry, with a slight bitterness appearing at the end.
I’m a big fan of the Deanston ‘standard’ 12 year old, though less taken with the Virgin Oak expression, so was looking forward to seeing how the Festival bottling compared. It’s interesting therefore that this seems to sit somewhere in between – the Bourbon influence is clear, but I think there is definitely more American oak coming through with the additional sharpness. I feel it needs a little water to do it justice as just too harsh otherwise, but overall a good addition to the Braw Spirit cabinet and we look forward to the next festival bottling (and will hopefully make it along to taste it on-site next time).