Dewar’s 12 Year Old

I thought it was maybe about time I covered another blend on whiskyreviews.net and my recent visit to Aberfeldy Distillery presented me with the opportunity to try out some of the Dewar’s range.

John Dewar founded a wine and spirits shop in Perth in 1846. It would have been impossible for him to contemplate the significance of this business decision but his name, and that of his sons, has become forever etched into the story of whisky. Dewar started blending his own whisky around the 1860’s but it was really his sons who would grow the brand into a global, near 200 year-spanning success story.

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John’s sons, John and Thomas took over the company when their father passed away in 1880 and launched a new whisky called Dewar’s White Label. Thomas, who was just 16 at the time, wanted to see the world and later left his brother to run the company, setting off to spread the word of Dewar’s throughout the land. In 1892 he embarked on a two year journey, visiting some 26 countries along the way including the US (Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco), Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, China and Hong Kong. Thomas, or Tommy, was a charismatic man and he enjoyed great success taking the Dewar’s product to these places. By the time he returned home, Dewar’s was selling on both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Pacific.

Tommy kept a journal of his travels, commenting on the places he visited, the people he met and the sights he saw. This journal was publised in 1894 under the name ‘A Ramble Around the Globe’. He later went on to become a politician and developed a passion for breeding racehorses.

Meanwhile, the company, now named John Dewar & Sons, was expanding. In 1898, John commissioned a distillery at Aberfeldy which still produces the spirit at the heart of the blend today and even houses ‘Dewar’s World of Whisky’ – a museum to John, his two sons and the brand that they created.

Today, Dewar’s is owned by Bacardi but the White Label blend launched by John & Tommy remains the flagship expression. However, I’m going to be reviewing their 12 year old expression. At one time this was known as ‘Double Matured’ as the whisky is put back into casks for a six month marrying period after blending, allowing all the components to come together successfully. This name appears to have been phased out, although the process remains.

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On the nose there’s Coconut, Almond, Malt and Cereal, Honey and some light Fruit notes. The palate meanwhile offers notes of Honey, Corn, some Toffee, slightly Burnt Toast and a strong hint of Aniseed.

The Scores: About the Scores…

Smell: 15 / 20. Grain whisky leaps out at first but with time in the glass some malty character comes through.

Taste: 15 / 20. Light bodied but decent flavour though I find the aniseed dominates a little, particularly on the finish.

Value for Money: 7 / 10. Should come in around £30 which isn’t bad for a decent blend, aged 12 years. In fact, it has more character than some of the budget single malts in a similar price range.

Overall: 37 / 50. An enjoyable, drinkable dram with a character all it’s own.

For more on Dewar’s…

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