FrontRunners: In the Name of the Father

  • Bruce Wallin

In 1846, John Dewar, proprietor of a small liquor store in Perth, Scotland, pioneered the practice of blending Scotch whisky. In a quest for a more balanced, harmonious spirit than the single malts of his day, Dewar began distilling his own brand of Scotch, spurning established canons of the centuries-old craft by commingling select malt and grain whiskies. Dewar then placed his creation in glass bottles (instead of ceramic jugs) and, with an audacity uncommon to his era, emblazoned the label with his own name. More than 150 years later, that name remains a symbol of fine blended Scotch, an affiliation commemorated by the release of Dewar’s (www.dewars.com) new Signature whisky.

Thomas Aitken, one of only six master blenders in Dewar’s history, handcrafted Signature utilizing single malts from every distilling region in Scotland. The company’s own Aberfeldy 27-year-old is at the core of the blend, of which a mere 1,000 bottles, at $200 apiece, are available through a limited release in New York City. Dewar’s plans a wider release of Signature later this year.

Although perhaps lacking the distinct character of a sea-battered Highlands malt or a flowery Speyside, Dewar’s Signature represents a refined composition, accomplishing exquisitely the harmony of flavors essential to a superior blend. The smooth, golden amber spirit delivers to the palate precisely what it promises on the nose: notes of honey and vanilla with a touch of butterscotch and fruit, culminating in a mild, slightly dry cedar finish. The whisky’s even tone makes it an ideal spirit for a host to serve, while its elegant wood case and bottle present a distinguished gift offering. Either way, Signature is a worthy, well-balanced blend—and one that John Dewar would be proud to label as his own. 

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