Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth Mezcal Finish Is a Major Milestone in Scotch Whisky

Dewar's Illegal Smooth
Courtesy of Juan Patino for Dewar's

The newest whisky release in the Dewar’s portfolio is a major benchmark in the world of Scotch whisky and one of the most interesting blended whiskies generally that you’ll be able to drink this year. Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth (so named for the Ilegal mezcal brand that supplied the barrels) is a super-affordable novelty whisky with a lot of potential applications. In other words, it’s just what the whisk(e)y world needs right now.

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The Dewar’s Smooth line actually debuted last year with a Caribbean version finished in rum casks. This bottle of Dewar’s, however, is significant to Scotch whisky in particular because it’s one of the first “non-traditional” finishes available to the world at large—in part simply because it’s an under-$25 option that you won’t have to bribe a liquor store manager to take home. And mezcal crossing the whisky path is, to put it simply, exciting.

Dewar's Illegal Smooth with a Toasted Citrus Highball
Dewar’s Illegal Smooth with a Toasted Citrus Highball Courtesy of Juan Patino for Dewar's

Mezcal barrels are not part of the traditional list of finishes for whisky, which mostly include fortified wines, bourbon, and virgin oak. Last year, however, the governing bodies of the whisky industry amended existing laws to allow for far more flexible rules for things like finishing barrels. Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth is among the first to test the waters on whether whisky drinkers will flock to these bottles or not.

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If the goal is to get people drinking new and innovative stuff, Dewar’s has set itself up for success with this bottle. Dewar’s Ilegal Smooth, which launches officially next month, is set to retail for just $22 and comes with a number of serving suggestions, including a highball that capitalizes on the mezcal’s influence with grapefruit and other citrus flavors. Provided tasting notes say that the liquid’s flavor profile “has subtle notes of caramel, sliced green pepper and a wisp of smoke; offering brown spirit drinkers a refreshing new go-to and unique pairing for entertaining or epicurean gatherings.”

Ilegal Smooth will be fully, nationally available May 1, but some of us will see it popping up long before that. And as we’re inundated with $100-plus price tags across the industry, it’s a no-brainer to give anything new under $25 a try.

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