Well, I took a flight to Chicago last week and had the chance to sample a couple of whisky's. I know I just reviewed Dewar's 12 year Old Special Reserve, but when a friendly flight attendant offered me two bottles of Dewar's White Label, I couldn't resist, and brought one home to do a double tasting.
White Label is often promoted as the most popular scotch in the U.S., but it's been a long time since I tried it. Its popularity works against it in that regard. It's hard to associate popularity with quality and good flavor.
Together these blends represent almost half of the Dewar's line of scotch. Missing from the lineup is Dewar's honey, 18 and signature 27 year old malts. Dewar's is owned by Bacardi, but began as a small distillery owned by a world traveler and journalist, John Dewar. The distillery was opened in 1846, and White Label has existed largely unchanged since 1899.
I haven't been able to find information on the specific whiskeys blended to make either of these malts, but Dewar's owns five distilleries: Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Macduff, and Royal Brackla.
Dewar's White Label: Nose:Sharp peat, alcohol, campfire smoke.
Taste:Alcohol, rough peat, mildly sweet finish.
Dewar's 12 Year Old Nose:Sweet oats, molasses, fresh hay mow, light peat smoke, caramel.
Taste: Balanced. Sweet peat starts on the tip of the tongue and rolls its way down the palate, finishing with a mild smokiness. Caramel.
Price: $18.99-$30.99. Available most places scotch is sold.
Result: The 12 year old is lighter and more delicate, with notes of honey in the peat. White is smokier, heavier, bolder, harsher. I wouldn't buy the White Label with so many other options out there. It would be interesting to compare it with another cheap scotch, like Grant's.