Now owned by the Bacardi Company, the Dewar’s brand was created in 1846 by John Dewar, Sr. in Scotland. But the brand didn’t grow into the powerhouse of whiskey production until his son John Jr. and Thomas took over the company in 1880 upon John Sr.’s death. By 1896 they had constructed the Aberfeldy distillery and became one of the global market leaders in scotch whiskey sales.
Dewar’s brand at the time in the 19th century was innovative for being the first scotch whiskey blenders to age their blend. As opposed to just blending the single malts and bottling immediately, Dewar’s would blend their malts and return the finished blend to oak barrels to age further and to allow the flavors to “marry” together more intricately.
Dewar’s Available Whiskies
- Dewar’s White Label
Although Dewar’s as a whole is not the best selling scotch whiskey in America, the distillery’s flagship product, Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch, is consistently one of the top-selling individual bottles of scotch in the country. In each year it’s selling over a million cases.
This blend was originally created by Dewar’s brand’s first master distiller A.J. Cameron in 1899. With slight hints of honey and vanilla on the palate and notes of apple and pear on the nose, Dewar’s has been an industry standard for mid-tier, introductory blended scotches for decades. Every bar and restaurant worth their salt has at least a case of this on hand at all times.
- Other Offerings
Besides the white label, Dewar’s offers a variety of differently aged variants. Currently available are the 12 year, 15 year, 18 year, and 25 year old variants. And they recently released the “Double Double Series” available at 21 years, 27 years, and 32 years old. The Double Double whiskies boast a four-step aging process wherein first the individual mat and grain whiskies are aged separately, the malts are blended on their own, and the grains are blended on their own, then those two batches are aged for a second time. The third aging process involves the final blend of malt and grain whiskies being finally aged together. The fourth and final step is to take the aged blend and transfer it to sherry casks to finish aging. The 21 year is finished in Oloroso sherry cask, the 27 in Palo Cortado sherry casks, and the 32 year is finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
Dewar’s Caribbean Smooth is a newer product that contains up to 40 different single malts, and is double aged for 8 years. The last 6 months or so is done in former rum aging barrels. This scotch will have slight notes of caramel and a tropical fruitiness (coconut, pineapple), unlike most scotches.
And in the vein of experimental collaboration, Dewar’s has paired with Illegal Mezcal to produce the world’s first scotch finished in Mezcal barrels, Dewar’s Illegal Smooth. After aging for 8 years the result is a slightly smokier Dewar’s with hints of green peppers and caramel.
Dewar’s Prices and Availability
Dewar’s White Label has a great appeal with a sticker price in the liquor store of about 20-28 bucks for a 750ml bottle. That’ll run you about 5-9 dollars a glass at the bar depending on if you’re at your local dive, night club, or classier restaurant. It is definitely worth a try as a mid-tier product if you’re just starting to get into brown liquors, and haven’t had much experience with blended scotch.
The white label is available in all sizes from 50ml minis to 1.75L magnums.
Both the Caribbean Smooth and Illegal Smooth varieties will cost about the same as the White Label, however, they are only available in the 750ml size.
As with all other aged spirits, as the age goes up, so does the price. Starting with the 12 year a 750ml bottle will set you back about 30-35, the 15 around $40-$45, the 18 $70-$75, and the biggest gap being up to the 25 year, with a wide range of pricing starting from around $185, and going as hush as $280.
The 12 year is available in all sizes like the white label, however, the older 15 year, 18 year, and 25 year are only in 750ml formats.
The Double Double series is unique in that the whiskies are so limited that they are offered only in “half bottles” at 375ml per. The 21 year is around $65, the 27 around $120, and the 32 year can be as high as $250, if not higher. Because of differentiating taxes, the higher the price tag, the higher the variation in pricing will be based on region.
Below are the latest Dewars prices.
|Dewar's White Label Blended Scotch Whisky||50ml||From $8.99|
|Dewar's 12 Year||750ml||From $26.99|
|Dewar's 15 Year||750ml||From $41.99|
|Dewar's 18 Year||750ml||From $51.99|
|Dewar's Double Double 21 Year||375ml||From $49.99|
|Dewar's Double Double 27 Year||375ml||From $99.99|
|Dewar's Double Double 32 Year||375ml||From $149.99|
|Dewar's Ilegal Smooth||750ml||From $24.99|
|Dewar's Caribbean Smooth||750ml||From $23.99|
|Dewar's Highlander Honey||750ml||From $24.99|
Other common and popular blended scotches that one could try after trying Dewar’s White Label are Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker Red Label. These two bottles are the introductory varieties for the brands. And just like with Dewar’s both Johnnie Walker and Chivas offer aged varieties that can definitely go punch-for-punch against their Dewar’s counterparts.
If you are interested in trying the finer tasting points of Dewar’s than as with any other blended scotch, it would behoove one to try the single malts that are used to blend Dewar’s famous White Label recipe. You’ve got the “heart” of the Dewar’s blend coming from their own Aberfeldy distillery, which offers their single malt scotch in 12, 16, and 21-year-old varieties ranging from $40 to $160 a bottle. Then there’s Craigellachie, purchased by John Dewar’s and Sons more recently in 1998. Their more easily located 13 year old single malt will set you back about $60, while the 17 year more than doubles in price at around $130 for a 750ml bottle. They also have less commonly available varieties ranging from 21 to 33 years old. Some of them get into the thousands of dollars price range. And there’s also Royal Brackla distillery. You can try their 12, 16, and 21 year old single malt scotches for around $60, $120, and $230 a bottle respectively.
Cocktails With Devar’s
This is a classic cocktail that will require a home made ginger and honest syrup that is worth keeping around for use in more than just this cocktail recipe.
For the honey-ginger Syrup:
- 100g Fresh ginger; peeled and sliced
- 1 cup Cold water
- 1 cup Honey
Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and strain syrup into a bottle. Allow cooling.
For the Cocktail:
- 2 oz Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whiskey
- .75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- .75 oz Honey-ginger syrup
- .25 oz Peated Scotch*
Take a chilled martini glass or coup and pour the peated scotch in and “rinse” the glass, getting all surfaces coated with the scotch. Next add ice, Dewar’s, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain the cocktail into the coated glass and garnish with either a lemon twist and/or a piece of candied ginger. Store unused honey-ginger syrup in the fridge for use in more cocktails or teas.
*A “peated scotch” just means a scotch whiskey with a strong “peat” flavor. A few notable heavily peaty, or “smoky”, scotches are Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Talisker, and Lagavulin.
- 3 dash Angostura Bitters
- 2 Dash Orange Bitters
- 2.0 oz Dewar’s White Label
- 1.0 oz Sweet Vermouth
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin, always dash your bitters first when building a cocktail, fill 3/4 with heavy ice* and stir for about 15-20 seconds (~75 rotations). Strain into a chilled martini glass or coup, or over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.
*The quality of your ice matters greatly when making cocktails, if you only have thinner ice chips instead of more solid cubes, then stir for less time as the ice will melt down and dilute your drink faster. Use a thin straw to taste test your drink as you stir until you achieve your desired strength of flavor.