Head to head: Dewar’s White Label vs. Dewar’s 12 y/o Special Reserve

A: White Label

Dewars head to head

B: 12 y/o

Maker: Dewar & Sons, Perthshire, Scotland, UK (Bacardi)



B: 12 y/o

ABV: 40%

Appearance (coloring likely added)

A: Pale gold.

B: Pale copper.


A: Young. Malt, varnish, and a bit of brown butter.

B: Richer. Woodruff, malt, hints of sherry and oak.

On the palate

A: Full bodied and immature. New make, alcohol, malt, not much else.

B: Full bodied and more rounded. Malt, butterscotch, honey, oak.


A: Hot and brash with a bit of candy sweetness on the back end.

B: Creamy and sweet with a little bite. Fades slowly.


A: Adequate in a hot toddy, but doesn’t contribute  much. Same with a butterscotch, Rob Roy and

Rusty Nail. Pleasantly malty with soda.

B: Does well in all the above drinks, adding a nice buttery note and more depth. In other words, one can actually taste the whisky in the drink.

Parting words: Both of these were perfectly adequate whiskies with the 12 y/o being the richer and more rounded of the two. Surprisingly, given the price difference, I would rank Dewar’s White label above Johnny Walker Red, but it’s still no more than a mixer. To confuse things further, I would rank the 12 y/o version below Johnny Walker Black, even though the two are the same age. The 12 does really well in cocktails but falls flat as a sipper. JW Black isn’t the most complex blend on the market but it has enough smoke and oak to keep me from dozing off mid sip.

In conclusion, Dewar’s White Label is mildly recommended for mixing but not for sipping and Dewar’s 12 y/o is recommended for mixing but only mildly recommended for sipping.

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