Where in the world would we be without the oak barrel? Well, for one thing, we wouldn’t be enjoying any of those brown colored spirits like Bourbon, Scotch or Rum. We also wouldn’t be enjoying fine wine of any color: red or white. Aging wine and distilled spirits in new and/or used oak barrels gives them their distinctive color and flavor. Without the barrel, all spirits would be a boring, clear, transparent waterish color like vodka.

Dewar’s has taken this whole process and upped the ante with their new White Label Scratched Cask Scotch. First, they take up to 40 selected single malt and single grain whiskys and blend them to the same standard that was first created in the late 1800’s. Then they age this blend in oak barrels, both used Bourbon and virgin oak barrels for 4 years. As if that wasn’t enough, they then take used Bourbon barrels that are charred and lightly scratch them to expose more wood and char and then age the blend for several more months to finish it off properly.


It sounds like a whole lot of work, but the proof is in the tasting, so let’s get to it. Compared to the traditional Dewar’s White Label, the Scratched Cask Scotch is a much more golden brown color, although the traditional blend is a pretty pale honey color. The traditional blend has a soft honey like nose that compliments its color. That nose continues with a touch of vanilla and a light fruity bouquet. On the palate, the traditional blend continues its light touch with a bit of peat smoke, light malt, vanilla and honey. The finish is smooth and light and short. This is a light handed Scotch that’s pretty straightforward and easy on the palate and equally easy to swallow. No wonder it’s one of the most popular Scotch’s around.

Now, let’s get to that Scratched Oak blend. The nose is a bit more oaky and smoky but still retains hints of the honey and vanilla. On the palate, the smoky peat and oak really take a major step forward and are much more readily discernible. This is a bolder scotch than its kissing cousin the traditional white label. The palate continues with the vanilla and honey and is followed by subtle bourbon notes. The finish is again perfectly smooth and leaves a peaty and smoky and oaky and bourbon like taste that lingers a bit longer than the traditional white label. I would have to say that this Scratched Cask blend is worth the extra few bucks as it really delivers the flavor and is more complex and oily and layered than the traditional blend. If you like the flavors of Scotch, but don’t like it over oaky or heavily smoked , but enjoy a full flavored Scotch, then this your glass of Scotch.

You can get Dewar’s White Label for around $19.99 per 750 ML bottle, while Dewar’s White Label Scratched Cask can be found for around $24.99 per 750 ML bottle.

By George Brozowski