Old Blends: Dewar’s White Label, Late 1940s/Early 1950s

Some of you would like me to review more blends. You will accordingly be pleased to know that starting this week, for the next two months or so, I will be posting one review of a blended whisky per week. You may be less pleased to know that these are all blends released many decades ago.

First up is a Dewar’s White Label released sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. I’ve previously reviewed the current Dewar’s White Label and I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that I found it barely drinkable (in fact, I barely drank it). This doesn’t make me nervous about this incarnation of the whisky though. My (limited) experience with old blends has led me to expect a much higher malt content and also a higher peat content. At the least, I expect it will be interesting. 

Dewar’s White Label (43.4%; late 1940s/early 1950s release; from a bottle split)

Nose: Yeast, sherry, leaves—mostly yeast though off the top. The sourness moves in the direction of aspirin and there’s a touch of farmy peat and some putty and glue as well. With more time it’s more vegetal (closer to contemporary ex-bourbon Tobermory). A drop of water pushes the yeasty/vegetal complex back and emphasizes the peat.

Palate: The yeast does not follow through onto the palate, or at least it’s not as pronounced. Peatier here and the sherry notes (old coins, leaves, salted nuts) are more prominent. The texture is very good—much richer than contemporary whiskies at 43%. With more time some fruit pops out (citrus) and it gets even peatier (tobacco) and then quite peppery. Water doesn’t do anything good here—mostly thins out the texture.

Finish: Long. The yeasty note returns more strongly here with a turn towards malt and digestive biscuits. Some leafy smoke at the end. The pepper builds here too with time picking up some charred wood. As on the palate with water.

Comments: The nose made me a bit nervous at first but this is so much better than the contemporary version! Let’s hope the older blends I acquired samples of alongside this one are as good.

Rating: 87 points.


One thought on “Old Blends: Dewar’s White Label, Late 1940s/Early 1950s

  1. Cheers for this great, in-depth review. I have not yet dived into the world of old whisky (as in bottled several decades ago), but I recently got hold of a sample of pre-1956 Black & White. Maybe that one will spark a new interest in me and make me look for such sips more closely. :)


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