Dewar’s ‘Double Double’ Scotch Whisky Gets Even Better
Dewar’s Double Double, a range of aged and blended scotch-whiskies are finally in India. But are they worth the expensive price tag?
For more than 175 years, Dewar’s has been at the top of the game with its scotch whiskies. Its blended whiskies, including the hugely popular White Label, have earned the brand more awards than any other equivalent liquor maker. Dewar’s, of course, pioneered the double ageing process, where blended single grain whiskies, and single malts are first aged separately, and then blended together and aged once again, resulting in products that are smooth and have a depth of flavour, marketed under the eponymous ‘Double Double’ name. Three years ago, Stephanie Macleod, the seventh master distiller at Dewar’s, tweaked the process further by ageing the whiskies an additional year to create a new range of award-winning Double Double whiskies. Dewar’s Double Double 21 YO, 27 YO, and 32 YO stand out because these whiskies spend around a year in specially selected sherry casks as part of their finishing process, which gives them a brand new character.
They’re subsequently bottled at 46% ABV, sans chill filtration and colour adjustment, in uniquely shaped 500 ml bottles. Up to 40 of the finest grain and single malt whiskies come together to form the blend, with the Aberfeldy single malt remaining at the heart of it, like it has been since 1898. The whiskies proved to be a massive success, and have been in continuous limelight since their launch. In 2019, Macleod made history, becoming the first woman to win the coveted Master Blender Of The Year honour. And Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old has won the Blended Scotch of the Year every year since its introduction at the International Whisky Competition. The 27 YO, too, has maintained its spot in the top three. But the big news came in 2020, when the 32 YO was crowned Whisky of the Year, beating competition from around the world, including coveted single malts fromScotland, Ireland, Japan, and the US. It was a rare occasion that a blended Scotch was so honoured. India recently got its first taste of these whiskies. Over an intimate, well-curated gathering in Delhi, Macleod herself led the 40 odd aficionados through the three gems. I was there, and found them to be excellent sipping whiskies. They are exceptionally smooth, delicate, and nuanced, featuring a spectrum of flavours, depth of intensity, layers of complexity, and individual characters. It’s not common to find 27-and 32-YO expressions on the shelves, let alone with such cask finishes. So, it was a wonderful opportunity to taste these whiskies guided systematically by the master herself. Here are my notes from the session.
DEWAR’S DOUBLE DOUBLE 21 YO
Aged in Oloroso sherry casks, this whisky is super concentrated yet playful. Oloroso is a sherry that ages oxidatively in oak casks, picking up tons of concentration, dried nuttiness, tobacco, balsamic, and oxidative notes with sweet hints of toffee, caramel, tropical fruits, and softwood. The wine’s character is well mingled in the layers, but not very obviously. Savoury and earthy characteristics complement the husky and chewy profile. It finishes on a playful, sweet, warm, and spicy note with almond-like nuttiness. Acidity and warmth are soft and balanced, making it a fun, yet sincere dram.
Price: Rs 12,000 in Gurugram
DEWAR’S DOUBLE DOUBLE 27 YO
This whisky is aged in casks that once contained Palo Cortado, an unusual form of sherry that undergoes an initial ageing under the veil of a naturally occurring yeast called, flor, but eventually loses it, and then ages oxidatively like an Oloroso. The resulting wine has a weighty, complex palate that retains its crispness and dryness. The whisky, on the other hand, has notes of aged seaside shells, dark chocolate, aged meat, dried and old savouriness, and an obvious creaminess, much like a cashew paste. But the dominant flavour has a feel of forest earth, mushroom, saddle leather, and tobacco, cut through by the taste of under-ripe citrus that brings forth youth and freshness to the big, bold, imposing personality of this complex whisky.
Price: Rs 22,000 in Gurugram
DEWAR’S DOUBLE DOUBLE 32 YO
This whisky is aged in casks that once held Pedro Ximenez sherry, a dark, sticky, syrupy sweet wine that’s made from raisinated white grapes. Think sultanas, dried peaches, figs, honey, caramel, wax, and baked apples. The whisky is tightly bound. A few swirls won’t do, you’ll need to sit and listen to it as it opens up. Uber concentrated, it’s unlike anything I’ve tasted. Dense, deep, and complex, it expectedly has a touch of golden raisins. Hints of varnish and oxidative hues take over with a husky palate, where tannins make an appearance as well. There’s ample spice, which is neither sweet nor warm, just aromatic with an alluring peppery zing. Notes of cigar leaf dominate on the long finish alongside an amalgamation of other tertiary notes and smoke. Overall, it is a gastronomic delight. Only a small allocation will reach India. Pick it up at the first opportunity.
Price: Rs 35,000 in Gurugram