Deanston Distillery Tour

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While the site of Deanston distillery was established in 1785, the actual distillery was built in 1966. Since distilling equipment seems to be replaced about every 50 years anyway, the distillery has an old feel about it with its old brick buildings. The original owners were Deanston Distilling Co. but the distillery was sold to Invergordons Distillers in 1972. Then in 1982 the distillery went silent due to the great whisky loch (think whisky depression) and was not reopened unitl 1990, when Burn Stewart & Co purchased the distillery (source). So its had a short and tumultuous life as a distillery but it seems to be coming into its own now with more bottles popping up at shops. They have made the decision to not use chill-filtration or colour additives for any of their whiskies which is quite refreshing. The distillery is located not far from Stirling Castle which makes it quite accessible to tourists and denizens of Edinburgh/Glasgow alike. We visited Deanston distillery in the summer of 2016 and have chronicled our experience below.


 

Opening Times

Deanston Distillery Visitor Centre – 10.00am to 5.00pm, Mon-Sun
The Coffee Bothy – 10.00am to 4.30pm, Mon-Sun


Contact

Deanston Distillery
Near Doune,
Perthshire
FK16 6AG
Scotland

Visitor Centre Telephone: 01786 843 010

Website: http://deanstonmalt.com/the-distillery/distillery-tours

 


 

Tours

Deanston Tour £9.00

This tour warmly welcomes you to see for yourself how we make our award-winning Deanston single malt Scotch whisky. Join our experienced tour guides on a journey through time, taking you back to our past as a cotton mill and through the evolution of Deanston.

Tour details:

  • Guided tour of the distillery
  • Includes a dram of our Deanston 12 year old
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 50 minutes

Deanston Classic Tour £12.00

The Deanston Classic Tour takes you into the heart of the distillery. Here you will see our traditional open mash tun, gleaming copper stills and our must-see vaulted maturation Warehouse 2B. Having taken in the peaceful haven of the maturation rooms, with their vaulted brick ceilings, we finish with a dram of Deanston 12 year old and Deanston Virgin Oak in our Tasting Room.

Tour details:

  • Includes drams of our Deanston 12 year old and Deanston Virgin Oak
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 50 minutes

Deanston Tasting Room Tour £20.00

Experience the difference traditional methods make to the taste of whisky as you go on a sensory journey through the distillery, ending in the Deanston Tasting Room. Exploring the aromas and flavours of our Deanston expressions, you are invited to discover how our handcrafted approach contributes to the exceptional Deanston expressions. It’s a great way to learn and spend time with friends.

Tour details:

  • Guided tour of the distillery
  • Deanston Tasting Room Experience
  • Includes three drams of Deanston Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 60 minutes

Deanston Heritage Tour £35.00

The distillery and its local surroundings are rooted in history and tradition Soak up some of Deanston’s rich heritage with this extended tour.

Going back in time to the 18th century, you will experience the social history of our community whilst strolling through the historic ‘workers’ village on the banks of the beautiful River Teith.

Tour details:

  • Guided tour of Deanston Village, including a visit to the distillery’s water source
  • Deanston Tasting Room Experience
  • Includes three drams of Deanston
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 75 minutes

Deanston Whisky and Chocolate Tours

Our unique whisky and chocolate tours perfectly pair our favourite Deanston drams with beautiful chocolate produced by Highland Chocolatier, Iain Burnett. If you’re a whisky lover with a sweet tooth join us on our fine whisky and chocolate journey.

Tour details at £23.00:

  • Guided tour of the distillery
  • 3 whisky tastings and 3 chocolates (includes 1 distillery exclusive)
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 90 minutes

Tour details at £25.00:

  • Guided tour of the distillery
  • 4 whisky tastings and 4 chocolates (includes 1 distillery exclusive)
  • £5 voucher towards the purchase of any bottle of Deanston 70cl single malt whisky in the distillery shop
  • Duration: 90 minutes

 


 

Our Experience:

We arrived at Deanston distillery on a Monday afternoon. About a 15 minute drive Northwest of Stirling, it was an easy drive and it would definitely be an easy visit if you are seeing Stirling Castle. The distillery sits right on the banks of the River Teith and if you are coming from Stirling, you make a left right before the stone bridge.

We decided to go on the Deanston Tour which is the cheapest option, so our review will only cover what it’s like to go on this tour. However, I believe the tour part of the experience is the same for all the other tour options with the exception of the Deanston Heritage Tour.

The tour started out with the usual introduction and safety guidelines. I am happy to say that they allowed photographs throughout the tour which I really like! After the introduction we headed outside to a “courtyard” filled with casks (as you can see below). I asked the tour guide at this point, if there were any changes made since Distell purchased the Burn Stewart (owners of Deanston distillery), and he said that nothing really changed. So production is going along as usual despite the change in ownership.

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We then moved through the casks to the Turbine House which as the name suggested houses a hydro turbine that produces all the electricity needs of the distillery! The site of Deanston distillery used to be a cotton mill and the turbine house used to contain water wheels which powered the mill. So this site has a long history of green energy!

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The turbine itself was not too snazzy but it was still super cool. The tour guide said that the turbine produced all the electricity needed for the distillery which made me wonder about how the stills were heated since that requires a great deal of energy. I asked him about this and he admitted that the stills are gas powered. So not all of the energy needs are provided for by the turbine but it is still very impressive and it definitely make Deanston quite unique in this manner.

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Next we moved on to the malt mill which was of course a Porteus. As with all distilleries that use Porteus mills the tour guide had to give the obligatory explanation that Porteus made their mills so reliable that they went out of businesss because no one need to buy new ones and very little servicing was needed. I wonder how many products with this kind of track record for reliability have been made since the industrial era..

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Just another picture of this beautiful piece of machinery. I wonder how many of these are left in the world.

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We then continued on to the mash tun which was quite unique in that it had an open top. Usually mash tuns these days have tops on them to keep the heat in. You occasionally see these old style tuns at various distilleries. The only one that comes to mind right now is Bruichladdich. They were cleaning the mash tun when arrived so we got to see a bit of the process and what the tun looked like with the filtering plates pulled out. You can see the filter plates stacked neatly on the inner walls of the tun in the picture below.

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And moving along the whisky making process, we entered the washback room. They use stainless steel washbacks but they are an older style with opens tops which they covered using “traditional” wood boards. In a way, the steel washbacks actually looked very similar to the traditional oregon pine style washbacks. I mean if you ignore the whole lack of wood. They definitely do not look like the shiny bullet shapped stainless steel washbacks that you see at the new distilleries.

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And next the still room! Quite a lovely looking still room with 4 large stills (2 wash stills and 2 spirit stills). Actually I was quite surprise by how large the spirit stills were. They seemed almost the same size as the wash stills which is a little unusual. Typically the spirit stills will be smaller because if you do “a one wash still run to one spirit still run” type of distilling then you are dealing with a lot less liquid at the spirit still stage due to the removal of water during the wash still run. What this should mean for the spirit distillation is that there is more copper contact due to the higher rater of still to liquid which should result in a lighter spirit.

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Next we entered the room where they fill their casks. This was actually quite a large room with a number of casks lined up along the floor. You can see the spirit vat and pump in the picture below. I noticed during the tour that a lot of the casks were ex-boubon barrels as opposed to hogsheads so I asked the tour guide about this. He confirmed that they usually age Deanston in ex-bourbon barrels instead of building out the barrels to form the larger hogsheads. Since barrels are smaller than hogsheads (200 liters to 250 liters respectively), this means that there is more wood to spirit contact for their aging. Thus the casks should, on average, have a greater influence on the whisky. It also means they have to use more casks to make the same volume of whisky.

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And on to the final step of the whisky making process, the warehouse! We entered a dark and damp vault-like structure with casks stacked up to 3 high. It was hard to get a clear picture here but you can get an idea of it from the picture below. The tour guide said there are 7 warehouses on site but they also mature their spirit at the other Burn Stewart/Distell distilleries (Tobermory and Bunnahabhain). They also mature spirit from Tobermory on site but not Bunnahabhain. A lot of distilleries will spread out their casks like this so that they don’t lose all their stock in case of a major accident like a fire.

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At the front of the warehouse, were a few casks which had signatures scribbled all over them. The tour guide explained that these were the autographs of the cast a crew of the film, The Angel’s Share, which of course filmed at Deanston for some of their scenes. If you watch the movie, they used Deanston distillery for the interior scenes for the first distillery that they visit. You can see the signed casks in the picture below.

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And finally we ended up back in the visitor centre/gift shop where we were given our taster drams of the Deanston 12. The shop was very well stocked with lots of whiskies and merchandise. I bought by obligatory distillery beanie but I was tempted by some very nice glasswear. This is definitely one of the nicest distillery gift shops we have seen. They also had a live cask on display in the shop from which you could fill your own bottle. I really like it when distilleries have these, since it makes the experience so much more special. Unfortunately, our budget did not allow me the priveledge of filling my own bottle but maybe next time.

At this point, I decided I wanted more drams so I asked if I could pay the extra for the Tasting Room Tour so I could try more expressions. They were very cool about this and let me do it. Yes!

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So overall the tour was excellent in terms of being able to see a lot of the distillery. The tour guide was really nice and super knowledgable. You could tell that he was really into whisky which made the experience much better than what you get at a lot of other distilleries. All the staff were incredibly friendly and accomodating and the whole visitor centre was very nice with good restrooms! We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Deanston distillery and we were actually kind of surprised by how much we liked it. We can definitely recommend this to anyone looking to tour/visit a distillery. Seeing as how it’s not too far from Stirling Castle, I think this would be a very good option for tourists in Scotland.

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One thought on “Deanston Distillery Tour

  1. Pingback: Visit Scottish Distilleries | Adventures in Whisky Land

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