Deanston 12 Highland Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I started my whisky journey with Scotch. My attention has waxed and waned, but I’ve never given up on it. I’ve fallen in love with whiskies from each of the five regions. I’ve come to appreciate blends, single grains, and single malts.


My attention today is directed to the Highland region. In particular, Deanston.  Currently owned by Distell International, this distillery was founded in 1965 in Doune on the River Teith in a former cotton mill. That mill was vital to the local economy as it was the major employer, and as such, the community welcomed the distillery with open arms.


Its master blender is Juliann Fernandez, and the master distiller is Brennan McCarron. It uses an open mash tun and has a long, 100-hour fermentation cycle. Deanston uses only locally sourced ingredients in its whisky. It ages everything in a vaulted-ceiling warehouse.


But wait, there’s more! Deanston is the only self-sustaining distillery in Scotland.


“The mighty River Teith is so much more than a water source. It is so powerful, it can fuel a distillery. The old cotton mill built a lade and installed one of the biggest waterwheels in Europe to harness its power. Then came electrical turbines in the 40s. Fast forward to today and we’re still using turbines to generate electricity from the river. In fact, we generate enough energy to power the distillery, our offices, The Coffee Bothy, the Visitor Centre, and we still have approximately 75% remaining to sell back to the National Grid.” – Deanston


Deanston 12 Highland Single Malt is one of its core expressions. It is aged in former Bourbon barrels, is non-chill filtered, and naturally colored. A 750ml bottle is packaged at 46.3% ABV (92.6°), and you can expect to pay about $50.00 for it.


I snagged a 50ml taster at some random liquor store; let’s see if a full 750ml is worth picking up, shall we?  Time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Deanston 12 was the color of bright gold. It made an ultra-thin rim that formed sticky droplets that never really went anywhere.


Nose:  Do you like the smell of fruit? I found notes of citrus, pear, and pineapple. Beneath those, aromas of vanilla and smoky oak were evident. When I took the air into my mouth, a wave of pineapple rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  A buttery mouthfeel with a medium body led to the tastes of honey, crisp apple, chocolate, and vanilla on the front. As it moved to the middle, the first instance of oak came through, which was joined by cocoa and malt. As it transitioned to the back, the malt continued, the oak became dry, and there were also black pepper and cinnamon spice.


Finish:  Short-to-medium in length, black pepper, cocoa powder, and dry, smoky oak left my hard palate tingly.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I realize this is only a $50.00 single malt, and since it has a relatively high proof and is a dozen years old, so price-wise, it seems like a bargain. The nose was beautiful, and the palate disjointed in places.  I had high hopes for Deanston 12; the best I can suggest is trying this one at a Bar or a friend’s house before committing to a purchase. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.