Cask finishes are enjoying something of a boomlet in the whisky world at the present moment, and the latest example comes from blended scotch standard bearer Dewar’s, whose Portuguese Smooth sees the eight-year-old blend finished in port casks. This is a follow up to Ilegal Smooth, which is finished in mezcal barrels, and Caribbean Smooth, which takes a turn in rum barrels.
Portuguese Smooth has a predictably reddish hue, and enjoys a pleasant nose with malty vanilla, butterscotch toffee, caramel, sherried raisin, and a hint of prune juice. It’s round and soft on the palate, and begins with those rich, mellow notes of warm butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and honey. Things take a darker, fruitier turn at the center with blackberries and brambles, and the end hits with warm raisin and spice. It remains mellow at the finish but dries out slightly with prune juice and hints of oak, slipping away into a moderately timed finish with an adequate measure of spice.
While Portuguese Smooth adds a lot more to like to the Dewar’s profile, it might be a bridge too far to deem it a complex, slow-sipper. Above-all, it remains a supremely drinkable blended scotch. But it’s a supremely drinkable scotch that’s far more interesting and rewarding that it needs to be, particularly at its refreshingly mellow price point. And while I did enjoy the spirit neat, I also found it to shine in a Scotch and Soda, where its dark berry flavors and late-stage hit of sherried raisin similarly upgrade a refreshingly simple, no-stress dram.
Whether or not the vogue for cask finishes waxes or wanes, I hope Dewar’s Portuguese Smooth will be with us well into the future.
— 40% ABV