Ol’ John Dewar Sr. founded his eponymously named whisky company in 1846, and while it did well enough in those early years, it was really after his death in 1880 that the brand took off internationally thanks to his two sons, John Jr. and Thomas. Thomas (“Tommy” to his bowling buddies) in particular travelled the world, whipping up support for the blended hooch, in what might be the first instance of a “global brand ambassador” making the rounds. Thomas Dewar was apparently one of those extremely out-going, bon vivant, jack-of-all-trades types and his salesmanship not only increased Dewar’s sales in far off locales, it brought attention to Scotch whisky in general and helped it become the international beverage it is today. His two year trip was chronicled in his journals which were published in 1894 under the name “A Ramble Round the Globe”. The journey took him throughout the US, Hawaii, Fiji, Australia and China. There is a rumor that he spent quite a bit of time in those warmer climes due to health reasons, but it’s a fair bet that someone as outgoing as Tommy more likely wanted to kill a few weeks at Club Med on Fiji drinking Dewar’s out of a coconut.
Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky is still mighty popular around the world today and is represented by the ubiquitous White Label, this 12 Year Old, an 18 Year Old and the top shelf Signature bottling. The last three, the 12, 18 and Signature are, what they call, double aged, meaning that after the blender’s work is done, the whisky goes back in to wood for a period of time to, shall we say, get to know itself a little better.
The Nose: A very fresh and bright, yet mild nose. Juicy grapes and apple juice…not cider, apple juice, with mild cocoa and soft floral grain. The faintest, tiniest hint of peaty smoke or smokey peat…it’s so faint it’s almost not there. A pleasant nose but damn, it’s so mild and expected that it’s almost dull.
The Palate: Round but thinnish, honey-sweetened entry, more juicy grapes slide into soft cocoa-y grain, peppery oak and a bit of ashy smoke. Again…pleasant, but man, it sort of just tastes like “Scotch”, there’s not a lot of depth or complexity.
The Finish: White pepper and tobacco smoke at first, trailing off expectedly with more fruit notes.
Thoughts: Dewars 12 is fine. I see it around for $24 or so, which isn’t bad, but there’s not much that jumps out here and screams “Special” or “Reserve”. I suppose tho’ that it wouldn’t look good on the label to say “safe” or “non-threatening”. I enjoyed the dram I had, it’s well-made stuff, hits all the expected notes, and is easy drinking, but it lacks anything to make it truly unique or stand out.
Dewar’s 12 Year Old Special Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky