A picture of Max, my dog. Alongside a bottle of Dewar's Japanese Smooth.

Review: Dewar’s Japanese Smooth

A couple of weeks ago I visited a local liquor store where I quickly struck up conversation with one of its employees. I found out he had as big a passion for whisky as I do and we talked about whisky for more than half an hour, recommending various whiskies to each other. I was surprised when he advised me Dewar’s Japanese Smooth as a must try. Because up till that point our tastes had been quite similar, but I was never a big fan of Dewar’s myself. It turns out he agreed with me on that thought, but that this bottling in his opinion was an exception. Not only because it was a decent whisky, but also because of its novelty. After all, how often have you tried a Mizunara cask finished whisky? For me it’s a first!

I was certainly intrigued. So, when I saw it on the shelves earlier this week – sporting a nice discount – I decided to pull the trigger. Today, I asked my fiancée to pick a whisky for today’s review. She came back to me with this dram and even though I’m not very far through the bottle, I figured why not?

If you’re looking for more good whisky blogs, I greatly advise you to also look up @notanotherwhiskyman on Instagram. He has reviewed a bunch of whiskies and he’s worth the follow.

Tasting Notes: Dewar’s – 8 Years, Japanese Smooth –

Stats:

ABV: 40% (80 proof)

Age: 8 years old

Distillery: Unspecified

Owned by: Bacardi

Category: Blended Scotch

Awards: Unknown

Chill Filtered: Yes (unspecified but let’s assume so)

Natural Colour: No

Setting:

Enjoyed neat, in a Glencairn. In my living room, with my feet up in a lazy chair. Laptop on my lap. After a great day at work and but having had a bummer at home (so my emotions were once again balanced out nicely :p). I started as a blind tasting (with the help of my lovely fiancée), revealing the bottle later on.

Nose:

My fiancée asked me to guess which whisky my dram held, and the nose immediately made me think of Speyside. And though it’s likely there’s some Speyside in there, my initial guess was wrong. Going back to the glass after I found out which whisky she picked out,I still stand by my initial impression though. Because it reminds me very much of a typical Speyside. Especially Glenfiddich 12 comes to mind. The nose is light, floral and with some honey and citrus in the mix (more specifically I’d say oranges). But it’s all very subdued and nothing to really write home about. A drop of water just makes the nose fade into the background even more.

Palate:

The taste surprised me, especially for a whisky bottled at 40%. For that low an ABV it has a rather oily mouthfeel. (Perhaps because the porousness of the Mizunara casks loses water faster than other casks, leaving behind the oils? This is just a theory of mine though, I’d love to hear it if anyone has more info on this!) On the palate I get a lot of oranges, with hints of cinnamon and spice. It’s almost vaguely reminiscent of Glühwein (or mulled wine). I also get a fair amount of honey and just a tiny bit of pepper, that shows up quite sudden and then fades aways just as fast. It’s fairly complex and full bodied for a dram in this price range. A drop of water highlights the cinnamon and pepper. The honey is still present, but the oranges get more subdued.

Finish:

The finish is rather long, especially (once again) considering the low ABV. I don’t know if many of you are familiar with winegum/liquorice candy. Over here (the Netherlands) we have this thing called “drop fruit duo’s) which is basically candy consistent of one-half liquorice and one-half winegum. This whisky gives me the exact same aftertaste as those things used to. Whether that’s a good thing is of course up to you. You can still taste the oranges and spice but there’s a certain bitterness that the candy also gives me, long after finishing it. A drop of water seems to have little effect on the finish, perhaps highlighting the liquorice a bit more over the oranges. But it’s very subtle.

Verdict:

I’m a happy drambler having tried this whisky. Without my new whisky friend (@notanotherwhiskyman) I might have never tried it, so I’m grateful to him for the tip! Of course, this is not the world’s greatest whisky. But when you consider that you can regularly find it for around 20 euro… it’s a great buy! I like to have a couple of whiskies on hand that I won’t fear “wasting” by drinking it too fast or too casual. You can take your time with this one and appreciate it, because it does have a bit of exploring to offer. But if you want to pour a couple in a row, or a friend wants to add it to their coke? You won’t fret at all because it’s easy to replace and even as a mixer it’s priced competitively. I’d recommend trying this one!

Rating:

86/100

Value:

A

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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