Let's make a Deanston Old Fashioned with master distiller Brendan McCarron

Let's make a Deanston Old Fashioned with master distiller Brendan McCarron

We chatted with master blender Julieann Fernandez earlier this year all about the Highland distillery, but now it’s time to talk cocktails with master distiller Brendan McCarron.

Deanston Virgin Oak came about because, among all of the ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, the distillery team believed that people had developed “a thirst for something different,” notes McCarron. 

Virgin Oak is initially matured in ex-bourbon casks, before around a year-long finishing period in virgin American oak, most of which has been toasted and charred to level #3, as well as a smaller amount of char #4 casks (the highest level of charring). 

What does virgin oak add to the whisky? “It just makes everything pop,” McCarron says, “adding those classic woody flavours, creamy vanilla, oak spice, freshly ground up cloves and white pepper.” But it’s not simply overpowered by the cask finish: “It makes the spirit character shine through as well – that unique waxy quality Deanston has,” with a load of orange and apple fruitiness.

Considering an Old Fashioned is traditionally made with bourbon, which is legally required to be matured exclusively in virgin American oak, it’s not hugely surprising that Deanston Virgin Oak makes a brilliant Scotch-based twist on the classic cocktail. The even better news is that you’ve got (almost) everything you need to make one in your Birthday Box! 

Here is master distiller Brendan McCarron’s very own Deanston Old Fashioned recipe. 

  • 2 dashes of Angostura Orange bitters (though the regular Angostura bitters in your Birthday Box are the classic choice, and will work perfectly too!)
  • A splash of simple syrup* (McCarron notes that it doesn’t need too much, as the whisky is already nice and sweet)
  • Three cubes of ice

Stir to chill and dilute, and pour into your tumbler glass. Garnish with an orange peel – make sure to squeeze the orange peel to express the oils in the skin, and rub this round the rim of the glass. Enjoy! 🥃


*You can make your own simple syrup easily by boiling sugar and water, or buy some here. Classic recipes often call for granulated sugar (worth trying brown), or even a sugar cube, mixed thoroughly with a couple of teaspoons of warm water and the bitters prior to adding the whisky and ice.

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