Review: Dewar’s Special Reserve 12 Years Old

Review: Dewar’s Special Reserve 12 Years Old

dewars 12 year

A cut above standard grade Dewar’s, this 12-year-old blended Scotch is as smooth as they come. Honey is brightest on the palate, and a smoky, tobacco-laden aftertaste lingers on the finish. Light and almost crisp (imagine biting into a fresh apple), this is a whisky that’s best straight up, without water or ice.

At just $24 a bottle (vs. $18 for regular Dewar’s White Label), why would you buy the younger stuff? (White Label, like all Scotch, is required, by law, to spend three years in casks but the bottle itself carries no explicit age labeling.) I’d give standard Dewar’s a B-; though it has the same honey character, it lacks nuance beyond that. It’s considerably harsher, and I think it needs a good splash of water to open it up.

Oh, and lest I fall down on the job: Dewar’s? I don’t even know ‘ers!

80 proof.

A- / $24 /

Dewar's Special Reserve 12 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. yoon on January 25, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I don’t know, $24 vs $18 is a 33% increase on price. That is big bucks down the road for your run-of-the-mill lush (me).

  2. cnull on January 26, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I hear your pain, but $24 for grade-A hooch is a very good deal. Plus, consider that there’s 15 shots in a bottle. That works out to just 40 cents extra a shot. Now you’d pay an extra 40 cents for a significantly better drink, wouldn’t you?

  3. J. Lindsey on February 17, 2009 at 11:52 am

    How does this compare to the Famous Grouse standard blend?

  4. John Keats on July 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    No comparison. Grouse is swill, this – while not spectacular – is not.

  5. Justin Time on October 29, 2009 at 4:56 am

    It has been a while since I bought Dewar’s, my grandfather and father drank Dewar’s, I grew up on it, have very fond memories of sitting around after hunting or fishing and drank lots of it. Over the years I switched to Johnnie Walker Black; the place that I usually visit for JWB was out, I spotted some White Label, and thought I would enjoy an the old fashioned taste of my youth. To my surprise and disappointment, Dewar’s tastes as if fortified, not aged properly or the quality is no longer possible from Dewar’s; all I can really say is that it did not have a pleasurable taste and has an unusual pungent smell of alcohol. After having a friend try some, just to see what he though, the result was the same. So, it’s like they say, you can’t go back home once you mature, sorry D you’ve been replaced for good; I will be staying with Johnnie Walker Black.

  6. Jason Debly on April 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Nose (undiluted)
    Muted dandelions and malt notes. No strong aromas here. Very gentle scents.

    Palate (undiluted)
    Very sweet entry onto the palate followed by some feeble attempt to dry or evaporate, but this is mostly a failed attempt. Instead of drying there is a warm graininess. As for flavors, you will be greeted by sugary, cloyingly so, honey, followed by some malty notes and dark chocolate. There is a slight barnyard funkiness, something spoiled going on here. Not easy to put my finger on it. Think of the taste of rinds of tangerines left in the fruit bowl too long by the kitchen window, as the sun beams down day after day.

    Finish (undiluted)
    Artificially sweetened cereal. Think Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms in a bowl of chocolate milk with saccharine liberally sprinkled on top. That’s the very brief lingering taste. The saccharine really is a distinct and unfortunate (like a car accident) flavor on the finish. Yuck!

  7. Jason Debly on April 14, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    For a 12 year old blended scotch whisky, it disappoints. Johnnie Walker Black, Chivas Regal 12 are much better value for money. Dewar’s 12 yrs is not recommended in my humble opinion.

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