...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, December 23, 2011

NOT Single Malt Report: Dewar's 12 year Special Reserve

Cigars and I don't get on like we used to.  The last two stoges I've puffed have resulted in toilet worship.

Last night, courtesy of Cousin Jon, I enjoyed Oban 14, Dimple Pinch, Isle of Jura 10, Highland Park 12, Dalwhinnie 15, and Macallan 12 -- over a four hour period.  Whisky is the one booze in which I can overindulge with confidence.  But then the lovely Opus X cigar arrived.  I got about one hour into the two-hour cigar when the abyss took me.

I stumbled outside, hugged a tree, and proceeded to forfeit the Oban, Dimple Pinch, Isle of Jura, Highland Park, Dalwhinnie, Macallan, dessert, dinner, lunch, and breakfast.

(Many thank yous to Jon for providing the means to indulge and also for hauling me up the stairs, postscript.  And thank you to Kristen, period.)

Thusly I'm slow today.  And the best thing for it is a little Hair of the Blog.

John Dewar & Sons, currently a subsidiary of the liquor behemoth known as Bacardi, opened for business in 1846.  The whisky maker merged with other brands to form Distillers Company in 1925.  Distillers Company was bought by Guinness in 1986, then Guinness became part of Diageo in 1997.  Then the following year Diageo jettisoned Dewar's into Bacardi's lap.

Dewar's owns five malt distilleries: Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, MacDuff and Royal Brackla.  They officially bottle Aberfeldy as single malts (12 & 21 years).  Independent bottlers have released singles from all five distilleries.  But the vast share of their malt (along with 30+ malts from other distilleries) goes into their bestselling blends.  Dewar's White La......whoa, almost lost my lunch there......Dewar's Wh......there it goes again......Dewar's White (gluh) Label and I don't get along.  Dewar's Signature is their premium blend.  I've seen an 18 year Founders in some liquor stores this year.  And Dewar's 12 year Special Reserve is their mid-pricer.

The whiskies in the 12 year are married.  With a rabbi and everything.  Or maybe after they're combined, they sit in an oak cask for some time in order for the flavors to merge before bottling.

I've had the White La......okay I'm not even going to type it.  I've had their cheapest blend.  And I'll leave it at that.  I've been seeing the 12 year everywhere recently, so I thought there should be a Report.  Kristen's parents keep a bottle of it at the house because one of their friends likes it on the rocks.

So I gave it a try.  The sacrifices I make for you people...

Distilleries: Around 40, including Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, MacDuff and Royal Brackla
Age: minimum 12 years
Blend: single malts and grain whiskies
Alcohol by Volume: 40%

Firstly, I tried it neat.  The color is classic whisky gold.  I would not be shocked to discover that's due to added carmel coloring.  For a 40% ABV, it has a very strong alcohol burn on its nose.  Once the ethanol passes the sniffer it's mostly vanilla and varnish.  And a tiny bit of brown sugar.  It's hot and lively on the palate.  It tastes of nuts and vanilla, some malt and grains.  But mostly, it tastes like notebook paper.  And I know that flavor well, having eaten a number of sheets in my childhood.  The finish is warm and of a decent length.

Adding some water brings out the oaks, bourbon and sherry, in the nose.  There's some molasses and cheese too.  But also, there's something else, weird and rotten meatish, in the distance; as if there was a dead animal in one of the casks.  There's no dead rat in the palate, thankfully.  It tastes a little like a light Irish whiskey.  My notes say "Nuts + caramel + nothing".  The finish has vanished altogether.

It's not the worst blend I've had and it's in a good price range.  And I didn't vomit.  A ringing endorsement!

Pricing - Appropriate at $20-$25
Rating - 67