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Dewar’s unveils mezcal-finished blended Scotch

Bacardi-owned Scotch whisky brand Dewar’s has created a blend finished in Ilegal Mezcal casks.

Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth has been finished in ex-Ilegal Mezcal casks

Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth is made by finishing eight-year-old Dewar’s, which has already been double-aged, in ex-Ilegal Mezcal casks for one month.

Set to launch in the US in April, Ilegal Smooth is the second cask-finished whisky from Dewar’s following the launch of Caribbean Smooth last year.

Ilegal Mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, Mexico, and is made using ‘sustainable’ Espadín agave.

Bottled at 40% ABV, Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth has been priced at US$21.99 per 750ml.

Stephanie Macleod, Dewar’s master blender, told The Spirits Business last month: “We now have our collaboration with Ilegal Mezcal where last year they sent us a consignment of beautiful casks that had previously held Ilegal Mezcal.

“We took the casks and we nosed them carefully, and then we filled them with Dewar’s eight-year-old. We monitored them carefully on a weekly basis and then when I felt that the balance was just right, we took them out of the casks and we bottled it.

“It’s something we’ve never done before, I don’t think the Scotch whisky industry has released something like this. It’s a beautiful product.

“Obviously the mezcal has its own flavour characteristics, and we wanted it to be balanced so that you could still get that whisky flavour, and then just complemented by the mezcal.”

Macleod said Dewar’s had wanted to experiment with mezcal casks in the past. However, due to the restrictions on Scotch whisky production until new legislative changes came into effect last year, the brand would not have been allowed to legally call the product ‘Scotch whisky’.

In 2019, however, the rules governing Scotch whisky production were relaxed to allow Tequila and mezcal casks to be used in maturation, among other new cask types.

“We had thought about doing this before, but obviously we weren’t able to call it a blended Scotch whisky,” Macleod said. “But now with the relaxations in the regulations, we are now able to call it Scotch whisky and that’s important for us. So it’s exciting times at Dewar’s.”

For an in-depth interview with Macleod, see the March 2020 issue of The Spirits Business, out now.

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