Scotland is blessed with an abundance of beautiful malt whisky distilleries, but one of the most extraordinary is Deanston, in Doune, north of Edinburgh. It is housed in an old Victorian cotton mill, a multistoried, dark-brick building snuggled next to the fast-flowing River Teith. Water is channeled from the river through underground pipes to power the distillery's own hydroelectric plant. It produces four times as much energy as it needs so the excess electricity is sold back to the national grid—enough to power the entire village of Deanston.
The distillery is not open to the public, but is as traditional as you can get. Everything is done by hand. There are no computers at all—weights and volumes are scribbled onto old-fashioned blackboards. The casks are stored and matured in vast cathedral-like rooms with vaulted ceilings, where the temperature is cool and constant.
Such an amazing setting deserves a special malt and to be frank, it hasn't had one. Until now. The distillery had been closed down for years when it was bought in the early 1990s. For the first few years the new owner worked to tweak and improve the spirit, and by 1996 he had hit upon a beauty. Finally, thirteen years later, it's being bottled.
Deanston’s malt used to be short and sharp, with a thin, bitter taste and an all but nonexistent finish. But this one is lemony and lingering, with a sweet-citrus fruit delight and a long, warming finish. It's very drinkable, too, and at 46.3 percent alcohol by volume, you have to watch it.
Brand-new packaging reflects the distillery's energy-efficient credentials—the label and packaging are made with recycled paper. The earthy-brown design is different, natural and impressive. Deanston is a fine addition to the malt whisky repertoire. And, at long last, a malt worthy of such a storied distillery.