Water of Life - Dewar’s
With our Water of Life series, we have covered a large array of distilleries, independent bottles and everything in between related to whisky.
Every now and then one becomes acutely aware that there are some uncharted corners with some major players that have gone uncovered so far.
Case in point: The empire which was first incepted by one John Dewar in the mid of the nineteenth century, which evolved to the founding of Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery smack bang in the midst of Highland Perthshire, along with the highly successful brand of blended whisky, which shall be the focus of this instalment.
Let’s start by shedding light on Dewar’s widely available, affordable 12 year old bottling, which especially in the new world is ubiquitous on supermarket shelves and an accessible gateway to their range.
The butterscotch coloured drop tickles the nostrils with a melange of honeyed toffee, grapes and grain infused orange notes. On the roof of the mouth, those nuances are further accentuated, with a mid-length finish bookmarking the experience with grain notes making a more dominant appearance.
Summa summarum, a nice and enjoyable mellow expression, especially given its price point.
Dewar’s 15 Year Old Scotch takes things up a notch, both in terms of the lightness of its brass-like copper colour as well as far as the aromas that materialize on the nose are concerned, i.e. a welcome dose of subtle smokiness weaving in with oaky, honeyed fruit notes.
The soft creaminess that hits the palate could be best described as having a fruity and floral flavour profile, with nuances of vanilla and oak shining through.
Not unlike the 12 year old expression, the 15 year is quite affordable and for its price range one of the better options when it comes to quality blends.
Not unlike I anticipated, things got more complex and interesting with the 18 year old.
Aroma-wise, things are expanding beyond toffee and honey notes as roasted almonds, citrussy highlights, sweet grainy barley and spicy oaky flavours interweave to create a nice bouquet, set against a backbone of a nice push and pull between spicy- and brown sugary sweetness.
What I instantaneously liked about the flavours, is that apart from vanilla, caramel, marzipan and almonds, there is a welcome infusion of smoke rounded out by charred oak flavours, which seamlessly transition into a mid-length creamy finish offering a nice counterpoint as things get spiced up (think Cinnamon and Cardamon having a dance) and the characteristic of the grain alcohol playing an interesting role in the mix.
On to the 25 Dewar’s 25 Years Old.
Expectations were high as Dewar’s makes a point of its meticulous research of the cask inventory, with each cask selected for the 25 expression having been individually vetted and sampled by the in-house blending luminary, i.e. Stephanie MacLeod.
Following MacLeod’s selection, blending occurred before then filling the result into carefully selected oak casks for an additional stint of maturation, which is the much fabled about “double aging” process Dewar’s has become known and appreciated for.
What the double aging allows for, is in essence the interactions of the disparate characters of the malts and grains to create a unified, balanced whole before being further refined in Royal Brackla casks.
The results is – how could it be different – an exercise in rich and harmonious extravagance, with multiple layers unveiling complex flavours of sherried fruits, floral notes, flavoursome wildflower honey, dark chocolate and just the faintest hint of oaky smoke to round things out with a subtle bang. I specifically like the briny aroma, set against sherry cask and smoke.
While blends are often looked down upon by whisky snobs, Dewar’s 25 year old offers a flavour profile that demonstrates that the age statement is more than a mere promotional gimmick but an example par excellence for time-honoured taste.
image from company website