A Blended Scotch Just Won the 2020 Whisky of the Year
It's not cheap, but you can still find this Dewar's release pretty easily
Move over, single malts: a blended Scotch just won the Whisky of the Year.
Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old scored 96.4 out of 100 points at the 2020 International Whisky Competition. The annual event awards an Olympics-style Gold, Silver and Bronze in each spirits category, limiting the overall number of winners.
Unlike other spirits competitions, the IWC’s tasting panel is presented with one whisky at a time (“to ensure each whisky gets the proper attention”) and notes are taken at every step for review. The spirits are ranked on sight, nose, taste/mouthfeel and finish.
The Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old — which, as of press time, we could still find on Drizly for under $200 — was one of 53 bottles that scored 90 points or above. It also took home the top Blended Scotch honors, where two other Dewar’s releases came in second and third. The same three bottles — a 32-, 27- and 25-year-old — also finished in the same order in the Best Blended Scotch Over 25 Years Old category.
Blended variations account for the highest sales in the Scotch category; they’re a mix of malt and grain whiskies sourced from different distilleries. But they rarely offer the same whisky-nerd appeal as a single malt, which hails from a single distillery, utilizes pot-still distillation and is made from a mash of malted barley.
“[I aimed] to push the boundaries of what is expected from the whisky category and have a long-standing commitment to innovation,” says Stephanie MacLeod of Dewar’s, who also took home the IWC’s Master Blender of the Year award for the second time (last year she was the first woman to win the honor).
As noted by whiskey-appreciation site Distiller, the winning Dewar’s expression goes through a “four-stage aging process,” where single malts and single grains are aged separately at least 32 years then blended together and rested in exhausted casks a few different times before the final liquid is matured in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
Casual drinkers who know Dewar’s from their best-selling (and pretty inexpensive) White Label release or their more unusual and recent releases that are finished in ex-rum and mezcal casks may be surprised by the brand’s big win. But since its start in 1846, Dewar’s has won more than 1,000 awards and even touts that they’re The World’s Most Awarded Blended Scotch Whisky.
As well, is anything really a surprise in the larger whisky/whiskey awards circuit? In different competitions (beyond IWC) over the past few years, we’ve seen a Canadian rye take top honors, as well as an inexpensive bottled-in-bond Tennessee whiskey, while a Japanese release recently won World’s Best Single Malt. Seeing a Scotch from a brand with two centuries of tradition win is practically a return to form by those standards.
The other big winners from this year’s IWC include …
Ardbeg: Six variations on this peaty Islay single malt landed in the top 10 scores. They also won Distillery of the Year.
Glenmorangie: Besides several Single Malt wins, the distillery’s Dr. Bill Lumsden took home Master Distiller of the Year honors.
Eagle Rare: The 10 Year Old release won both American Whiskey and Bourbon of the Year. It’s also pretty easy to find and typically priced under $50.
Matt D’Arcy & Co. Ltd.: A 17 Year Old Rum Finished Single Malt from this longstanding but only recently revived brand took home the Best Irish Whiskey of the Year.
1792: This Sazerac-owned brand took home a lot of Silver medals but won Best Cask Strength and Single Barrel American Whiskey awards.