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I'm amazed I've never reviewed any Dewar's here, but then again I've only really had the 18 Year Old (at a bar in NYC) and the Signature (at Whisky Live in Toronto one year). I've never even tried the ubiquitous White Lable. Oh, and I did review Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, which is the heart of Dewar's and where you can find the Dewar World of Whisky visitor centre at their distillery (I've never been).
Besides Aberfeldy, Dewar's also has Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Macduff, among others I am sure. John Dewar started the business in 1846 and would marry the blended whiskies in oak to better integrate the flavours, which wasn't really done at that time. Dewar's has a Royal Warrant (supplying the monarchy with the booze for over 100 years) and was bought by Bacardi in 1988, who have done a good job of rebranding the whiskies in their stable. The 12 Year Old is now called "The Ancestor", apparently after John Dewar; and no, I don't understand that either. This bottle was a birthday present from my brother, and has been open for about 3 months.
The colour is honey-gold. On the nose this is quite fruity, with orange, kiwi, papaya, lime and peach, all intermingling. Burnt toffee. Exotic spices like tumeric and saffron, and the faintest hint of peat. With water the citrus brightens up, and the peat steps forward a bit. Very nice.
On the palate, more orange shows up (and a bit more peat) but it's mostly caramel and citrus, with some baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon). Water helps keep everything integrated. Not bad but not as complex as the nose.
The long finish is spicy with anise, followed by bitter oak and dried fruit. For me, the nose is the highlight, and becomes a bit of a letdown by the time the finish arrives. Still, not a bad premium scotch at the right price point.