Dewar's White Label was my father's go-to Scotch during my formative years. I can remember him saying that he didn't develop an interest in Scotch until after he turned thirty, and I found that to be true for myself as well. Despite all of my Scottish enthusiasm during my teens and twenties (Burns' Night Dinners, haggis, bagpipe music, sword dancing, etc.), Scotch smelled revolting until I'd reached my Return of Saturn.
In the past few years I've grown to love and appreciate a good Scotch. On the rare occasions when I order it in a restaurant, I tend to go with the funky, peaty bottles from the islands. And I've had some beautifully aged Scotches as well. Thus I was excited when Julia regifted me with a bottle of Dewars 12. Whoever gives aged Scotch to a twenty-something woman is crazy, but despite all of that I came out as the clear winner.
A quick diversion... The last bearded president was Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893), which has allowed me to rebuke my mother's notion of "scruffy" with my own definitions of "presidential", "Victorian", or perhaps my favorite, Fredric's suggestion that I don't need to shave in order to preserve a certain Rabelaisian character. So I enjoy that little connection to our last president with full facial hair, and have also begged for a bachelor presidential candidate like James Buchanan. Fred Thompson was the closest in recent history, but I bring all of this up because Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie gave Benjamin Harrison a bunch of Dewar's Scotch back in 1891 and it became popular in the US because of said gift. Carnegie built a ton of libraries, I love libraries and enjoy reading, and the connections keep intertwining like the complex offspring of a hydra and an ouroboros.
Dewar's 12 Year Old Special Reserve
$18/375mL, 43% abv.
Rich and tangy on the initial taste with deep oak notes. Vanilla, caramel, and smoke show up with little touches of tobacco, leather, and orange peel. Entry level Scotch tends to be thin and quick; this has some weight and heft to it, and clings to the glass. Now, I've had deeper 18 and 20 year olds, but I'm quite pleased with the performance of this filly that's made a dozen laps around the sun before settling for a quiet rest in my small brandy snifter. Time to pour another half inch in the glass and enjoy the sting of cold weather against the warmth of slowly sipped whisky as did my ancestors...