PR invite // All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
As Scotland headed into one of the hottest summer weeks of 2023 – a tad late in September some might argue – I was invited to head up to Deanston Distillery for the opportunity to see the distillery and taste some of their recent releases.
Day 1 at Deanston Distillery
Deanston Distillery is about an hours drive away from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. In spite of the close proximity, this was my first time visiting the distillery. I always find it particularly exciting to see distilleries I’ve not previously been too – especially seeing the still rooms. To kick everything off we started our visit with a tour of the distillery.
Distillery Tour and Tasting of the Deanston 12 Year Old
I loved seeing the old mill buildings at Deanston that you are greeted with upon arrival. The production area is tucked in behind the main building and we were guided through the different areas in chronological order. Throughout the tour we had the opportunity to try both wash and wort which is always fascinating. It is also a lovely way to see how the flavours develop along the way – from unfermented barley water to new make fresh of the stills. One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the Deanston open wash back. I’ve never seen an open one before – only a partially open at Glen Scotia – and it is always so fun to see something new in a distillery. We even got to see them add water, which is distributed through a “sprinkler” system – which I filmed and you can see here. When having a look through the still room, we also got to try the new make, which at 71%+ still tasted very approachable and not sharp at all. But it really made me see the flavours that come through on the spirit, versus the cask for the Deanston spirit. Following our tour, we ended up in the warehouse, where a lovely lunch awaited.
Lunch in the Warehouse
I absolutely loved this set up and since I adore a dunnage warehouse, it felt so special to be able to sit and enjoy a lunch amongst the casks. It’s moments like these when I really feel how lucky I am to be able to have the opportunity to do this as a job. The buffet had a mix of foods like prawn tempura, couscous salad, a cheese board and fruits. There as also a soup being served, and if you have read any of my other distillery visit blog posts, then you already know how much I love soup for lunch at distilleries. It’s just a perfect lunch.
Staying overnight at Monachyle Mhor
After the tour, we were done for the day at the distillery and headed towards our hotel. For the night we were staying at Monachyle Mhor in the Trossachs. I had heard many good things about the hotel but not been before so was very curious to see what it would be like.
Monachyle Mhor sits in a beautiful location, in a glen, right next to both a mountain and a loch. It’s a really idyllic scene and I could imagine this being a beautiful spot for all seasons. I had a lovely and spacious room with a wonderfully comfortable bed, steam shower and a large indulgent bathtub. Another lovely thing about the hotel are the lovely little four legged friends that walk around here and there. The owners dogs walk freely around the grounds – and there’s also donkeys, alpacas, chickens and goats in the pen across the road.
I’ve already written more about the dinner in a separate section here below, but we also enjoyed a breakfast out on the lawn and I would really compliment the food as the sourdough avocado toast was just brilliant, and so were the berries with creme fraiche.
Before we headed to the lochside dinner we enjoyed some lovely sparkling wine from English vineyard Gusbourne – who I am a big fan of since trying their Chardonnay at my dinner with Fallachan Dining – and also both Deanston Old Fashioneds and Tobermory Gin Tonics. Deanston is owned by the same owner as Tobermory Distillery, and of course also Bunnahabhain so they have a stellar portfolio.
Oysters with a view
We went for a little walk on the grounds before dinner and had a little look at the foraged ingredients that would be featured for the evenings meal. We also had a look at the beehives that Monachyle Mhor has on the grounds. They are actually inside little houses, that you can book for well-being, where you can sleep on top of the beehives which is supposed to be good for your body, which sounds very intriguing.
Just above the hotel on the little hill overlooking the loch the team had set up a wonderful little tasting of oysters and whisky that awaited after our little walk. I am such a big fan of oysters and these were so fresh and delightful. Oysters also go so well together with whisky – and I would highly recommend the pairing if you haven’t tried it before! A perfect little appetiser.
Dinner by the loch
The weather had been getting better and better throughout the day and by the evening is was just magical. We walked through the pen of alpacas and goats to get down to our dinner spot – and I ended up getting my bum nibbled by one of the cheeky goats! – and I have to say that this is one of the most memorably dinners I have had. Just look at this view! Along with our dinner, we also enjoyed drams of Deanston 18, 21 and 15 Tequila Cask. That 21 Organic is such a treat of my whisky – and definitely one of my favourites from Deanston. To start we had some flavourful scallops, mains was Monachyle venison with chanterelles which was the highlight of the menu for me, and to finish the meal we had a Scottish raspberry bavarois. I should mention that Monachyle Mhor have the focus of sourcing as much of their ingredients and produce as possible themselves and locally, with most of the meat coming from the farm itself.
It really was such a stunning evening.
I tried to go swimming in the morning but I actually would’t recommend going for a swim right here, but perhaps there’s a better spot that I didn’t find, as the bottom is really muddy and feels almost quick-sand-y and it’s also quite shallow so you’d have to walk for quite a bit to reach a good depth.
Day 2 at Deanston Distillery
Masterclass with Julianne Fernandez and tasting of the Virgin Oak Cask Strength
First of up the itinerary for day 2, following breakfast, was a masterclass with Master Blender Julianne Fernandez who put us to the test with an aroma challenge. We had to nose a variety of different aromas, like vanilla, honey, wood, fruits and florals to try and identify them. It’s a lot of fun and really makes your think about aromas and how you describe them. We also did a tasting of the Virgin Oak right next to a straight from the cask Virgin Oak Cask Strength. It was so hard to pick a favourite, but I think the Cask Strength was my favourite on this occasion! Deanston has just released a Virgin oak Cask Strength, which I’m sure will be loved by a lot of whisky enthusiasts.
Tacos & Deanston Tequila Cask 15 Year Old
Last, but definitely not least, we enjoyed a lunch in the courtyard before heading back home. But it wasn’t just any lunch as the team had prepared a taco truck which was serving up some delicious tacos alongside with a tasting of the Deanston 15 Tequila Cask. The Tequila Cask is a very interesting expression as you definitely get a unique character from the tequila influence. It feels earthier and greener compared to the classic core releases and has an agave note on the finish. For me the cask influence shows up more on the palate, rather than on the nose.
Thank you so much Deanston for having me!
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