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Dimple Pinch 12 yo – Comparing Old And New(-ish)

by Oliver Klimek on November 12, 2013

Dimple – or Pinch as it is branded America – is one of the numerous Diageo blended Scotch brands that are overshadowed a bit by Johnnie Walker. Still it has a long tradition as the age statement ‘premium’ blend of John Haig & Co, one of Scotland’s oldest whisky producers. There are 12, 15 and 18 yeard old expressions.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a fairly old bottle of Dimple 12 yo (probably from 1960s) and a rather recent one (but probably not the current version my guess would be late 1990s). Needless to say a head to head comparison is appropriate here:

1960s – 40%

Colour: Bright amber
Nose: Raisins, butterscotch, orange zest, dried banana, candied ginger, nutmeg and pepper.
Palate: Raisins, sweet melon, caramel, orange, banana, hints of nutmeg.
Finish: Rather long, fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: Not the most complex of drams but nicely drinkable. The general character is light and fruity with a distinct sweetness.
Score: 84/100

1990s – 40%

Colour: Bright amber, maybe minimally lighter than the oldie
Nose: Raisins, wood polish  light caramel, quite weak overall
Palate: Raisins, caramel, vanilla, hints of mild spices.
Finish: Rather short, slightly sweet and slightly fruity.
Overall: It is difficult to detect many flavours in this whisky, it certainly is not bad but the vague sweet fruitiness is not enough to really be enjoyable.
Score: 73/100


The difference between the old and new Dimple 12 is very striking and in direct comparison the new version pales against the old one, although some similarities remain. Given that I found the same trend with Johnnie Walker Red Label, this result is not surprising. Production methods have changed but consumer tastes have as well. Billy Abbott has wrapped this up in his excellent blog post “Who Decides What We Drink” recently. The consequences are less than delightful.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh Feldman November 12, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Excellent. Another data point. I have a clear memory of my father ordering Pinch while at a dinner on the Alitalia lines ship Michelangelo on our voyage from New York to Genoa in 1974. We were moving to Italy for a year. It was my first taste of whisky. Do I need tell you it was delicious? Heck, you just gave it an 84. I’d be curious to see if it has fallen further in the last decade and a half since the 1990s one.


Florin November 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Oliver, you’ve done several studies of whisky over time so you have a good historical perspective. One thing I have not seen touched is: are the old and new blended whiskies comparable pricewise? In other words, 1960’s JW Red was on par with today’s JW Red’s price, or was it more like, say, JW Green of its day? It is possible that in the evolution of a brand, an expression (such as JW Red) that used to be upmarket becomes more downmarket in order not to increase the prices, but that comes with a cost in quality. At the same time, newer better fancier expressions appear with the corresponding rise in costs. We see this all the time in all types of products – cars, electronics, etc.

I am aware of your excellent comparison of single malts then (15 years ago or so) and now.


Povilas November 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I did the same comparison with Dimple, White Horse and Teachers, from 1980s and recent versions. All older ones were good and this Dimple was my favorite then. It’s always interesting to consider either it’s bottle ageing, market trend or drop of quality (and malt proportion, for sure!)..


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