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The Famous Grouse
The story of the Famous Grouse blend traces back to Matthew Gloag, a grocer and wine merchant from Perth that built a reputation for bottling fine whisky from all over Scotland. When Matthew passed away in 1860, his son William took over the family business and decided to use the stocks he had at hand to produce a blended Scotch that would become known as ‘The Grouse‘. The brand was an instant success and by 1905 it was renamed The Famous Grouse. A name that certainly seems justified today, given the blend’s current status as the best selling whisky in Scotland. A title it has held since at least 1980.
Today The Famous Grouse brand is part of the Edrington Group, owners of The Macallan and Highland Park distilleries. The owners have expanded over the years with a few different expressions… The Smoky Black is a peated blend formerly known as the Black Grouse, the Naked Grouse is finished in Sherry Casks and the Snow Grouse was a grain whisky designed to be consumed straight from the freezer. The brand further diversified by releasing the Famous Ginger Grouse – an alcoholic Ginger Beer. I will be reviewing the original and best-known expression, however…
Smell: Vanilla, Apple and Coconut with a touch of Biscuit and some youthful spirit.
Taste: Vanilla, Honey, Cream & Malt and a touch of Apple.
Thoughts: The Famous Grouse does so well because it offers consistency and affordability time after time. It’s not a dram for nerds or jumped-up connoisseurs, it’s a wee half for the old boys that perch at bars, up and down the country. It’s the sort of old-fashioned, everyday Scotch whisky that my Granda would have enjoyed as part of a wee hauf n’ hauf.
Grouse, and blends like it, are the lifeblood of the Scottish whisky industry and while it may not be the most amazing thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, I refuse to look down my nose at it. It does exactly what it was designed to do and that is to supply a light, inoffensive whisky that delivers again and again. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.