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Dewar's White Label
About Dewar's White Label
Now that it’s fall and the weather is starting to cool down, I was eager to try a new whisky for crafting cozy cocktails. And, since I was pleasantly surprised with the last affordable blended Scotch, I figured it was a good time to give Dewar’s White Label a shot.
The story of Dewar’s begins in 1846, when John Dewar founded his small spirit-merchant business, John Dewar and Sons. Over time, he would start creating his own blends, and the business would continue to grow for the next few decades.
The success of Dewar’s would continue after his sons, John Alexander and Tommy, inherited the company. They would make two important decisions: the hiring of master blender A.J. Cameron in 1890, and the opening of Aberfeldy distillery in Perthsire in 1898. Cameron was a pioneer of double aging, a distilling technique where the blended whisky is further aged in oak barrels for extra smoothness. This double aged blended scotch, Dewar’s White Label, was introduced in 1899, and continues to to be sold to this day.
❖ Spirit: Blended Scotch Whisky
❖ Distillery: Distilled, Blended, and Bottled by John Dewar and Sons in Perthshire Scotland
❖ ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
❖ Double Aged
❖ Low Price
❖ Nose: Apple, Pear, Vanilla, Caramel, Ethanol
❖ Taste: Thin mouth feel, Smoke, Apple, Vanilla, Caramel, A bit of a burn on the back of my throat but otherwise pretty smooth
❖ Finish: Long, Bitter citrus, Pepper, Vanilla
2 oz whiskey
2 Teaspoons Demerara Sugar or Brown Sugar
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
❖ Fill mug with boiling water and let stand for a minute or two to warm. Remember to empty before building the cocktail in the mug.
❖ Use this time to prepare the garnish by sticking the cloves into the lemon wheel
❖ Fill mug about halfway with boiling water, add sugar, and stir to dissolve
❖ Add the prepared garnish and stir
❖ Add the lemon juice and whiskey and stir
Although hot cocktails aren’t usually my go-to, I’ve always been curious about the Hot Toddy. But with so many variations of this well-known classic, it was hard for me to decide on a recipe. In the end, I chose this one from liquor.com because it seemed like a solid baseline and accompanied by a general history of the cocktail.
Though I was initially wary of hot cocktails, this recipe completely changed my mind. The overall balance was perfect, and successfully warmed me up on a chilly evening. The lemon juice and whisky are the most dominant flavors, and reminded me a bit of a Gold Rush. However, the cloves and sugar also added a distinct cider-like flavor that complimented the strong flavors of the whisky. And, it makes sense there are so many recipes, because any type of whiskey could work. I was a fan of the distinct grain flavor of a scotch like Dewar’s White Label, but I’m looking forward to trying Irish whiskey in the future.
While Dewar’s White Label is a decent option for an affordable blended Scotch, I’m not sure how it stacks up to the competition. I appreciated the fruity notes and how they balanced with the vanilla, caramel, and smoke notes. But, the unpleasant burn in the back of my throat and the thin mouthfeel were disappointing. When I compare it to something like Cutty Sark, a blended Scotch with a similar flavor profile and mouthfeel, I find it to be slightly less enjoyable.
However, I generally expect these characteristics from a cheaper Scotch, so the true test is how it tastes in a cocktail. In this regard, Dewar’s White label does well. I’m able to taste all the expected Scotch notes in the Hot Toddy, except maybe some of the smokiness and caramel. At least it doesn’t have that unpleasant burn in my throat when mixed with other ingredients. So, while I would probably choose Cutty Sark over Dewar’s White Label when given the choice, I still believe it’s a solid option for your next blended Scotch cocktail.
As always, drink responsibly.
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