If anyone even dreams of accusing the folks from Distell of being lazy, they’d better wake up and apologise! The current team have overseen the reopening of Tobermory Distillery after a two-year period of silence and refurbishment. They’ve also debuted the first ever instalment of their yearly Malt Gallery releases, and introduced a brand new signature whisky for Tobermory too! Today we’re trying some Tobermory and Deanston, can’t wait!

I genuinely thought that the Distell team should be having a well-earned week off in the sun, but then a box containing *eight* new limited-edition releases landed at TWL HQ for me! Eight new whiskies! That’s 16 in twelve months! Awesome work by any standards! 

As with last year, all three of their Scottish distilleries are represented: Deanston, Bunnahabhain and Tobermory, plus a Ledaig (Tobermory’s peated stablemate). Let’s have a look…


Deanston 2006Deanston 2006 Fino Finish, 55.7%, RRP £65

Colour: Brass.

Nose: Zesty and fruity, with some mulled spice notes. Clove-studded oranges, fizzy cola bottle sweets, deep caramel and a slight waxy/nutty edge…   

Palate: More luxurious than I was expecting from a Deanston, if I’m being honest. Pleasant medium coating with a cereal bassline (I’m going ‘wholemeal’ on this one…), sweet and sour flavours from stewed oranges and toffee (there’s a slight floral suggestion somewhere, I can’t quite put my finger on it… Heather? Lavender? Gorse? Maybe….), with some spice attack from cinnamon and mace towards the end. 

Finish: That spice clings for a moment and threatens to dry up, but sharpness in the form of orange once more acts as a balance to the piece.


Deanston 2002 OlorosoDeanston 2002 Organic Oloroso 16 Year Old, 50.6%, RRP £100

Colour: Beaten Copper

Nose: Instantly spicier. Black pepper and some delicate cumin are enveloped with sticky dry fruit sweetness, prunes in heather honey and candied orange peel in the background.

Palate: I was ready for the spiciness to attack me here… thankfully, it didn’t. A soft gentle coating once more with burned caramel and stewed fruits, this time more of a fresh bramble feel initially. Spice returns, not with a vengeance but enough to prick the ears, then summer berry cordial mingles with the spice at the end…

Finish: Medium length. Mild spice fire put out with a dark summer fruit extinguisher.


Deanston 1997 PaloDeanston 1997 Palo Cortado Finish 21 Year Old, 51.8%, RRP £150

Colour: Polished Brass

Nose: White pepper straight down the middle. Blackcurrant initially, then a wave of orangey wax is overtaken with a suggestion of Tutti Frutti (apparently that sounds funny when Geordies say it), then eastern spices and maybe even a far-off drop of Benedictine and a wisp of tobacco smoke. 

Palate: Soft mouthfeel and that sweet candied Tutti Frutti theme comes to the front. The very slightest hint of menthol or eucalyptus. The wood’s spiciness is evident as a running subplot, twisting and turning through nutmeg and cinnamon as if to conceal a cliffhanger ending… 

Finish: Soft and balanced, a mediumweight wet fade. The woody spice finally gives way as the fruit cordial returns for a lasting demise…

Overview: A great trio of Deanstons, people. I’ve always been of the opinion that the spirit is well suited for experimentation with maturation and Kirsty McCallum has certainly pushed the boundaries with these offerings. This is the first time that Deanston has been put into Fino casks, and there seems to be a pattern forming with the use of the ex-Palo Cortado casks in Distell warehouses. I think I like where they’re heading…


Tobermory MarsalaTobermory 1999 Marsala Finish 19 Year Old, 55.7%, RRP £140

Colour: Laminated Copper

Nose: A slight coastal breeze, a whiff of salt and iodine passes quickly, then thick toffee with stewed plums, lemon zest and sherbet take over.

Palate: An initial sweetness settles into a salted lemon prickle before the chewy toffee sets things straight. Occasionally it allows a lemon bonbon or barley sugar to make an appearance. But nothing goes anywhere without its say-so!  

Finish: Luxurious caramel takes the baton from the toffee, again allowing the occasional spike of salt, citrus and candy. 

Overview: An interesting incarnation from Tobermory folks! The recently-launched Signature 12-year-old showed a keenness to let the spirit shine through, as does this 19 year old. The use of the Marsala cask in this cask has added lashings of toffee and caramel influence that haven’t quite won me over this time, but with the unmistakable coastal notes running through it, I’m convinced that the newly-refurbished Tobermory distillery couldn’t be in safer hands!

That’s the first four of the eight done, Loungers! As ever, get out and try these whiskies yourselves! There’s no need to take my word for it! I’ll be back soon with the remaining three Bunnahabhain and one Ledaig!