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.

Sassy Rosé

Maker: Sandhill Crane, Jackson, Michigan, USA (Moffatt family)Sassy Rose

Grape: Cabernet Franc

Region: Michigan, USA

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 12%

Online price: $17

Appearance: Pale pink with thick legs.

Nose: Subtle. A whiff of smoke, plum, black cherry, hint of cedar.

On the palate: Light bodied and delicately sweet. White mulberry, white pepper, slightly underripe blueberry.

Finish: Plum, ripe fig, then a delicate oaky flavor as it fades.

Parting words: Sassy Rosé is dedicated to the memory of the Moffats’ beloved Airedale Rosie (2003-2011), who I actually met on a couple occasions while stopping by the tasting room in Jackson. She was a friendly dog, but being an Airedale she could be, well, sassy.

I’m a big fan of dry rosés, especially those from the South of France, so I came into this wine with high hopes. I have had it before at the winery and it tasted good, but wines tend to taste better when sampled at the winery with friends. I was eager to get it home and write up a review.

When I first opened it, I was disappointed. It was much sweeter than I remembered and lacking in sass. After spending eighteen or so hours in the refrigerator, it has improved quite a bit. The profile is much closer to dry French rosés and much more enjoyable now. It gets a bit overwhelmed by spicy food, but does well with a light lunch of cheese and crackers or with holiday turkey. The price is on the high side but it’s fair for what it is and may be a little cheaper at the tasting room if I recall correctly. Sassy Rosé is recommended.


Maker: Greenbush, Sawyer, Michigan, USAClosure

Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 5.9%

Purchased for: $10/6 pack

Appearance: Dark tan with a foamy head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Nose: Creamy malt, flowery hops, hint of sweetness.

On the palate: Cream on first entry, then springs into bloom. Dried flowers, coriander seed, epazote.

Finish: Fairly dry with big, brash hops. Lingers for a long, long time getting more and more bitter.

Parting words: Greenbush is a newish brewery in Southwest Michigan in the heart of wine country, the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, specifically. It’s a big, bold American Pale Ale that reminds me a lot of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale but it lacks the finesse of Two Hearted and the hoppy finish can get unpleasant when not drinking with food. I had it with a variety of foods and it seems to drink best with rich, spicy ones like sausage or pizza. Price is normal for a quality microbrew. I look forward to trying and reviewing more from this brewery soon! Closure is recommended.