This newly reimagined whisky blend gives you plenty of reason to sit, sip and savor this holiday season

The new Dewar's 12 puts a fresh spin on a classic cocktail.

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With all due respect to the glory of October, turning the calendar to November feels like the true marker of the beginning of the festive season.

Winter is coming and with it, cool temperatures, the last vestiges of fall leaves, early evening darkness and a seemingly instinctual need for coziness.

And starting with Thanksgiving, there seems to be a significant uptick in gatherings of every kind. In times like these, you’ll likely be called upon to host or attend a get-together, and that’s when providing a foolproof libation is of the utmost importance.

Selecting a crowd-pleaser is no easy task, and while scotch may not be the first spirit that comes to mind when you’re thinking about satisfying a range of palates, the versatility and flavor profiles available in a blend like the newly reimagined Dewar’s 12-year-old are a fantastic option to consider. It features an ultra-smooth, velvety texture combined with sweet vanilla and a fruity, floral finish.

That finishing flavor, presented against a backdrop that includes notes of light smokiness, peach, butterscotch and spiced apple, is wowing aficionados the world over (check out what the experts are saying at the bottom of this page).

The whisky’s smooth mouthfeel is a characteristic that Brian Cox, vice president of Dewar’s Scotch Whisky, North America, is particularly proud of. Not only does it enable the blend to be an enjoyable sipper on its own, but it also makes an excellent candidate for cocktail mixing.

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Cox recommends giving the Dewar’s 12 a run in well-loved recipes that are traditionally made with bourbon or rye whiskey. Substitute Dewar’s 12 for rye whiskey in a Manhattan, which also calls for sweet vermouth and bitters, and you have a Rob Roy (see main photo above).

“The complexity and round smoothness of Dewar’s 12-year-old makes it a perfect foundation for more subtle and smoother versions of classic cocktails,” Cox says. “When you incorporate Dewar’s 12, what you find is that they’re warming but not burning cocktails. And that’s again due to the smoothness.”

That brings us to an important point: warmth versus burn. We’ve all experienced the difference, and one is infinitely preferable to the other. But where does it come from? Turns out, it’s all part of the distiller’s process.

During distillation, the art is to capture the heart of the distillation — the main body of the distillate — where most of the key flavor notes come from, while avoiding the head of the distillation that accounts for the highest run of alcohol (but also the most volatile compounds that can cause the “burn” sensation later) and the tail, which has the heavier base alcohol.

Dewar’s 12 aims to incorporate the maximum possible amount of the distillate heart, which is called the “spirit cut.” The smaller a spirit cut is, the purer the flavor. And, of course, eliminating as much of the head and tail as possible is integral to creating the coveted warmth without the burn. Once the spirit cut is made, all that’s needed is time — 12 years, in fact — and the expertise of Dewar’s master blender, who expertly combines up to 40 single-malt and grain whiskies to create the final bottled product.

Time: It’s also what you’ll want to have in order to properly enjoy your festive libation this winter and holiday season. Straight-up, with ice or as a cocktail: As the experts often say, there’s only one way to best enjoy scotch — your way.

What the experts are saying about the new Dewar’s 12

Critics are loving the new Dewar’s 12. Courtesy of Dewar’s

“This is a zinger … an outstanding blended Scotch whisky.” It’s the highest rated 12-year-old blended Scotch ever in the history of the publication.
—Jonny McCormick, Whiskey Advocate

“This whisky represents the true symphony of a great blend.”
—Mahesh Patel, Universal Whisky Experience

“94 points. A stunning surprise. With this release, Dewar’s raises the bar on blended Scotch whisky, and it is a testament to the artistry of blending.”
—Mark Gillespie, WhiskyCast

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jessica marksbury

Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.