By STEFAN VOS
I initially toyed with the idea of doing this review as a sip-by-sip commentary, the enjoyment of a bottle of Scotch whisky (sticklers note: no ‘e’) in real time. As I envisioned how this would play out, however, I bravely discarded the idea:
Sip 1: “Mm, that is a delicious and smooth Scotch.”
Sip 2: “Yes indeed, delicious and smooth.”
Sip 20: “This really is bloody good Scotch, don’cherknow!”
Sip 50: <loud, indistinct singing in bad Scottish accent>
Sip 70: “Snrgyl fzzp.” <moaning> Help… meep…
And so on. No doubt an enjoyable but ultimately fruitless exercise.
A disclaimer: I am by no means a whisky expert. I am, however, a whisky fan and am on a journey of discovery and appreciation. Along the way I have picked up bits of arcane knowledge and my palate is slowly been educated through tastings and adventurous purchases. I began with Jack Daniel’s, have enjoyed good bourbons and some Irish whiskeys, tried some blended Scotches and more recently have graduated to single malts. (My uneducated understanding of the difference between blended whiskies and single malts is that single malts are blended whiskies from different barrels within a single distillery, while blended whiskies are a blend of single malts from 2 or more distilleries.) I gravitate toward the more peaty varieties of single malt, my current favourite being Talisker.
John Dewar and Sons Fine Scotch Whisky Emporium was founded in Scotland in 1846 and has been produced at the Aberfeldy distillery since 1898. That’s over 170 years of experience making this whisky. I’ve been playing guitar for just over 25 years now and I’m getting pretty good, so my expectations are high!
John Dewar was one of the first Scotsmen to blend whisky and my bottle of Dewar’s True Scotch 12 Years Old carries the additional moniker ‘The Ancestor’. It is a blended Scotch that, according to the label, was “Married in Oak Casks”. A rule of thumb with whisky is the longer it’s matured, the smoother it goes down. 12 years in the barrel and then in the bottle and then in my mouth and tummy. Yum.
As I’ve gravitated to the more peaty whiskies, I’ve neglected Scotches that lack this ‘spiciness’. The Dewar’s has alerted me to the folly of my ways. It’s okay though, I am still an infant in my experience of whisky, and have time to make up for my childish mistakes.
The flavour, while swinging away from the peaty side of things, is characterised by the Dewar’s website as, “Honey, home-made toffee apples and fudge. Warm, buttery and mellow. Juicy sultanas and fresh citrus, with subtle vanilla. Clean, full and lively. Rich. Melted caramel with a trace of oak. Rounded, smooth and long.”
I’m afraid these subtleties escape my naïve palate, but I can say that it tastes delicious with a subtle sweetness and freshness. It is also very smooth. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this whisky to anyone, regardless of whether they are young initiates or seasoned whisky pros. I can’t imagine anyone not really enjoying the Dewar’s 12 Years.
Another plus is that this bottle is affordable and, having said that, I believe that it punches above its weight, making it one of those great quality, value-for-money purchases.
“Snrgyl fzzp.” <moaning> Help… meep…