This is the third, and probably last for a while, of my reviews of easily found mass market blends (see here for the Black Label, which I liked a lot, and here for the Famous Grouse, which I did not like a lot). Unlike the Black Label and the Famous Grouse, I have never previously tasted the Dewar’s White Label (unless I have and have suppressed the memory). Owned by Bacardi, this White Label is claimed by them to be the top-selling blended Scotch whisky in the US. Then again, the Famous Grouse is claimed to be the top-selling blend in Scotland.
The group’s premier distillery is Aberfeldy and their malt is said to be the cornerstone of all their blends. I’ve not had much Aberfeldy before either so that doesn’t really create any particular expectations for me. I’ve also never tried the age stated Dewar’s blends—I believe there’s a 12 yo, a 15 yo and an 18 yo. If you do know those and would recommend them please write in below.
Dewar’s White Label (40%; from a purchased mini)
Nose: Sour and unpromising: an old-school uncoated tablet, plastic and industrial white vinegar. Rather nasty. Do I want to take a sip or quit while I’m ahead? With more time hints of fruit (lemon, tart apple) and honey do emerge but none of it adds up to goodness.
Palate: No one’s ever going to call me a quitter! Not much happening here but it’s not actively nasty. Simple sweetness and some grassy, lightly citrussy notes. No texture to speak of. On the second sip it’s really grainy and pretty metallic and verging on actively nasty. On the third sip here’s some of the fruit that came out on the nose, but the nasty stuff smothers it quickly.
Finish: Medium. No new development but all the stuff from the palate hangs around quite a bit longer than anyone would want it to.
Comments: Not good at all as a sipper; but to be fair, this is not really meant to be sipped slowly.
Rating: 65 points.
It didn’t seem like time was going to do anything for it and so I didn’t really take more than four small sips. I decided to play around with it instead. First I added a splash of Ardbog to it and it almost immediately became a pretty decent facsimile of an entry-level peated malt or a malt-heavy peated blend. The peat masked all the nasty notes and the fruity notes got a little more emphasis. Never being one to leave well enough alone I then added a splash of Tyrconnell NAS, hoping to up the fruit. And that indeed is what happened—the peat got tamped down on the nose and rather nice notes of melon and mandarin oranges emerged; the palate was less inspiring, however—somewhat jumbled with a nondescript charred quality dominating. And so naturally I added some Cointreau to this. This, of course, killed all the interest on the nose but turned the rest of the pour into a pleasant digestif that went really well with some 80% chocolate.
And this, my friends, is why you don’t just pour a bad whisky out. It’s quite easy to turn it into a base for entertaining experiments.