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Nose: Malt, apple skins, citrus and stone-fruits. The port cask finish is very subtle merely adding a gloss of fortified wine to the basic Dewar’s distillate. That is, however, a pleasant thing and it rounds off the corners of what can otherwise be a fairly ordinary (but competently "average") blended scotch nose. If you compare this to Dewar’s White Label then this is definitely the more interesting scotch.
Palate: A larger arrival than either of the other two “Dewar’s Smooth” expressions I’ve tasted recently, but also not as sweet or engaging. It’s surprisingly more like an oloroso sherry finish than port, and there is a good dose of tannin present which gives it a spiky, dry quality (I wonder if they were European oak casks? Surely not!). The texture is OK but overshadowed by the tannic dryness, which makes it seem thin. The palate is not as good as the nose.
Finish: Medium: Peppery, sharp spices, overbrewed tea and old walnut skins. The finish is a step down again from the early palate.
This is the last of the Dewar’s Smooth finish expressions I bought recently, and it’s not my favourite. It starts reasonably well but the taste and finish do not do justice to the nose. If it was softer and had better balance and a little more fruit on the palate I’d rate it more highly.
Adding a dash of water knocks the tannins down a good deal and generally improves the palate and mouth-feel, but the nose loses presence. It takes water surprisingly well for a 40%abv blended scotch – I guess all that oak spice has to be good for something. I thought this seemed like it will be best as a mixer, and in the presence of something sweet like Coke or dry ginger ale it’s probably going to be more than acceptable.
I’m rating it one point higher than Dewar’s White Label, which makes my ranking order for these three expressions and the Dewar’s scotches I’ve previously rated here as follows:
82/100 (3.25) - 15 Year Old “The Monarch”
81/100 (3) – 12 Year Old “The Ancestor”
81/100 (3) - Ilegal Smooth mescal cask
80/100 (3) - Japanese Smooth mizunara cask
79/100 (2.75) - Portuguese Smooth port cask
78/100 (2.75) – Dewar’s White Label
“Average” : 79/100 (2.75 stars)