Taste: Deanston Marsala cask finish 2014 Festival Edition

Earlier this month, Deanston held its second whisky festival and as part of the annual celebrations they bottled a special one off edition. For the 2014 festival, master blender Ian MacMillan selected an 11 year old Deanston finished in a Marsala cask for another year.

Its always a pleasure to visit the distillery either for the whisky, tours, range of gifts or the excellent food in the bothy. So we hit the road and headed towards Doune once again, unfortunately the week after the festival took place. There aren't many of these bottles left and they may have sold out by the time I write this; joining the ranks of the excellent Deanston Spanish Oak release that has recently dried up in the distillery shop. If that's the case, then a new Toasted Oak exclusive has been recently bottled at 15 years of age and yes, I'll have to return to pick that up shortly. In the meantime lets tackle this Marsala release. 

Distillery: Deanston
Distilled: 2002
Bottled: 2014
Strength: 57.2%
Edition: 130 bottles
Price: £90 (last few available at the distillery currently)
Cask: 11 years bourbon followed by an additional year in a Marsala cask

Colour: radiant amber with a tinge of ruby

Aroma: a great example of what a short stay in a wine cask can achieve. The core Deanston sweetness is evident with honeycomb and toffee. Yet now the dram is more robust, confident and pronounced with blackberries, stewed plums to the fore with apricots and a little helping of ginger beer as well. 

Without water there is a sharpness on the nose thanks to the Marsala cask; by adding a little water this arrival softens and turns to strawberries.

Taste: a new layer of depth has been added beyond the honey and malt, as its almost sherry-like in its character now. More crushed red berries, marzipan, raisins and a balsamic thickness on the tongue. The finish is refined and dry; not to the tongue twisting extent of the Longrow Shiraz cask which I did enjoy although that was a sugar loaded dram of epic proportions. In comparison with a little water this Deanston is far more approachable and not a singular dram per night.

The nearest match in the Deanston range is the distillery exclusive bottle your own sherry cask; available now in a range of sizes for passing travellers. The Oloroso cask has gone down well with friends and fellow enthusiasts whenever I share a dram or sample, but this Festival Edition is a superior experience in my opinion. Worth obtaining while you can.  

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