Tasting My Way Through a Dewar’s Vertical

A few weeks ago I poured a glass of Dewar’s White Label.  While I played catch up on my DVR, I remember taking a long, slow sip of whisky and thought it’d be interesting to go through the entire Dewar’s core line.  I was curious how the blends changed with age, from the 12-year-old to the 15, 18 and non-age stated Dewar’s Signature.  Then I thought it’d be fun to try some of the malts that go into Dewar’s.

So I reached out to Dewar’s, and not only did they send me samples of their core lineup, I was also sent a sample of 12-year-old expressions of Aberfeldy, Aultmore, The Deveron and Royal Brackla.  This post will focus on the Dewar’s blends first.  All are bottled at 40% abv.

Bottle photography courtesy of Dewar's.

Bottle photography courtesy of Dewar’s.

DEWAR’S 12-YEAR-OLD

Compared to the standard White Label, Dewar’s 12-year-old expression immediately benefits from a sweeter, fruitier nose, with ripe pears, honeyed malt and a bit of lemon rind.  Light toffee and candied lemon peel lead the palate, giving way to corn flakes and some stewed red fruits.  The finish is abrupt, leaving a lingering grainy note behind.  Pleasant, but not a huge upgrade from the standard White Label for me.  7/10

DEWAR’S 15-YEAR-OLD

The nose here is similar to the younger 12-year-old whisky, but contains a richness that leads me to suspect there’s a bit more malt in this blend.  Clove honey and spiced apples lead the nose, with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and wheat bread in the background.  A light burst of spice and honeyed malt develop into toffee, lemon custard and cereal grains.  The medium finish leaves behind a sweet and slightly tart note.  Dewar’s 15-year-old offers a better experience than its two younger siblings, and is worthy of a pour.  7.5/10

DEWAR’S 18-YEAR-OLD

What does three more years of maturation add to the table?  For starters, it’s still Dewar’s, which means it’s still subdued.  But what’s here is nice.  The nose has caramelized fruit, orange blossom honey, orange marmalade, with hints of figs and oak.  Even more flavorful than the enjoyable 15-year-old expression, Dewar’s 18 offers stewed red fruit, baked pie crust, honey, and lemon rind, with some toasted oak and vanilla bean.  The sweet malty finish is a touch longer than younger expressions.  I like this one as much as the 15-year-old, but for different reasons.  I found a touch more spice on that one, where here oak (and all it carries) finally starts to make an appearance.  7.5/10

DEWARS’S SIGNATURE

The Johnnie Walker Blue of Dewar’s, so to speak.  That’s how I described this to my wife when handing her the glass for a sip.  Truth is, there’s no age statement on Dewar’s Signature.  It’s older malt and grain whiskies blended with younger ones.  Age is a number, it’s not everything.  The richest of all Dewar’s blends, the nose here is full of dark toffee, spiced green pears, dark fruits, and French vanilla ice cream.  On first sip, I get a viscosity that leads me to believe there is a high percentage of malt whiskies in the blend.  It almost feels like a good single malt.  Light brown sugar, candied red fruits, toasted oak and slightly burnt orange peel fill the palate.  Toasted malt and cinnamon sticks appear towards the back palate.  That slight spice carries into the long, sweet malty finish.  8/10

Based solely on flavor, I’d name Signature as my favorite Dewar’s blend.  But if we’re talking value, I’m tied between the 15- and 18-year-old expressions.  Each expression takes the Dewar’s sweet malty flavor profile a step further, culminating with the excellent, but pricey, non-age statement Signature.

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