Dewar's Announces Ilegal Smooth, Scotch Finished in Mezcal Casks

Images courtesy of Dewar's

Announced today, the newest Dewar’s expression is a world first.

Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth is Dewar’s 8-year-old, double-aged blended Scotch whisky finished in Ilegal Mezcal casks.

This expression, the first ever of its type, joins Caribbean Smooth—released toward the end of 2019—in Dewar’s series of double-aged cask finishes.

“Dewar’s is thrilled to launch this second in a series of double-aged cask finishes, which further pushes the boundaries of the whisky category in line with Dewar’s commitment to innovation” says Brian Cox, Vice President, Dewar’s, North America.

Dewar’s Master Blender Stephanie MacLeod has been experimenting with different casks, leveraging the amendment made to Scotch whisky production rules last year. The change to the Scotch Whisky Technical File allows for a wider array of casks to be used to mature Scotch whisky.

The rules are intended to provide producers more flexibility so they can innovate and combat the perception of Scotch as “old fashioned,” pretentious and enjoyed only by older consumers. MacLeod is clearly embracing the more relaxed rules, committing to ushering Dewar’s into a new era.

Give this a read: Q&A with Stephanie MacLeod, Master Blender for Dewar's

“Scotch whisky was made hundreds of years ago not to be in fancy packaging and to be enjoyed at fireside in a leather armchair,” she told us in December of last year. “It was made to be enjoyed with friends. Scotch whisky is all about friendship, it’s about hospitality, it’s about sharing stories, and experimenting with it as well.”

One incredibly important technical note: Ilegal Smooth is not Scotch whisky blended with mezcal—the liquid is only matured in ex-Ilegal mezcal casks.

As the name suggests, the liquid is smooth and, rather than featuring the overpowering notes often associated with mezcal, the smoke is subtle on the palate. MacLeod describes the note as “a wisp of smoke.”

“Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth’s unique flavor profile features subtle notes of caramel, sliced green pepper and a wisp of smoke—making it an ideal pairing for your next dinner party, or as a spirit to enjoy neat, on the rocks or in highball recipes,” says Macleod.

John Rexer, founder of Ilegal Mezcal, pointed to another interesting element of Ilegal Smooth production: the direction the barrels are traveling.

“Many of the barrels utilized in aging mezcal are used whisky barrels,” explains Rexer. “It’s a nice shift to have our used Ilegal Mezcal barrels crossing borders to age whisky in Scotland.”

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Amended Scotch whisky production rules, Dewar’s and MacLeod’s pursuit of progress, and the collaboration between Scottish and Mexican spirits producers also showcase cultural shifts, from recognizing the need for flexibility to remain relevant, to reaching across oceans and borders for beneficial partnerships. Dewar’s Caribbean Smooth brought Scotland and the Caribbean together and Ilegal Smooth joins Scotland with Mexico.

Dewar's Stephanie MacLeod and Ilegal Mezcal's John Rexer

“Ilegal Mezcal is made in Oaxaca, Mexico, by Oaxaqueños. The company is composed of Mexicans, Guatemalans, Mexican Americans, an El Salvadoran American, Venezuelans, an Ecuadorian, New Yorkers, Californians and a Philadelphian…people from an array of ethnicities and cultures,” says Rexer. “We live, work, and play across borders. This partnership between Ilegal and Dewar’s is about sharing cultures and creating an opportunity for education around the mezcal category.”

Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth (40% ABV) will be available in 750ml bottles with an SRP of $21.99 and will appear on shelves throughout the United States and Canada in mid-April, with 100-percent distribution on May 1, 2020. Once you get your hands on a bottle, try the Toasted Citrus Highball, the Ilegal Smooth signature cocktail.

Toasted Citrus Highball cocktail made with Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth

The Toasted Citrus Highball

Recipe and image courtesy of Dewar’s

  • 2 parts Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth
  • 1 part Pink grapefruit juice
  • 2/3 part Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 part Honey water
  • 4 parts Soda water
  • Pink grapefruit slice to garnish

Add all liquid ingredients (except soda) to chilled highball glass. Add cubed ice and soda and stir from bottom of glass. Garnish with pink grapefruit slice.

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