|Famous Grouse, 10-Year-Old Malt (Scotland) |
This new, age-specific blended malt from The Famous Grouse has replaced the previous1992 Vintage Malt Whisky in the UK marketplace. It is anticipated that its accessibility will attract blended whisky drinkers looking to trade up to malts, as well as existing fans of the Vintage expression. Some extremely distinguished malts are included in the composition of the 10-year-old, as Master Blender John Ramsay always uses Highland Park and The Macallan in his blended malts, and The Glenrothes and Tamdhu are surely present in the blend, too. The result is a very well balanced and drinkable whisky, offering floral, lemon and apple notes on the nose, followed by brittle toffee and a suggestion of Sherry. Apple and toffee persist on the palate, along with walnuts and delicate perfume. The long, pleasing finish evokes Highland Park’s heather and peat characteristics. Fans of both The Famous Grouse blend ‘house’ style and of malts such as Highland Park and The Macallan will not be disappointed. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £24.95, major supermarkets, specialist whisky merchants.
|Famous Grouse, Black Grouse (Scotland) |
Following its successful launch last year in Scandinavian and global travel retail markets, the latest addition to the Famous Grouse family has now flown into the UK, initially being available exclusively to the general public in Sainsbury’s stores and the on-trade for a six months period up to December.
According to the brand’s owners The Edrington Group, “This rich and flavoursome smoky whisky marries the trademark quality and smoothness of The Famous Grouse with the aromatic peatiness of an Islay malt. The Black Grouse is an important brand extension for The Famous Grouse, and taps into those drinking occasions where blended Scotch drinkers are looking for a dram with a more challenging taste.”
The Black Grouse can be seen as a strategic move by Edrington to replace its peaty Black Bottle blended brand, sold to Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd along with Bunnahabhain distillery on Islay in 2003.
On the nose, initial bonfire smoke overlies the rich, smooth, fruity, cereal character associated with The Famous Grouse. The bonfire notes become softer and peatier with exposure to air. Full-bodied and silky smooth in the mouth, smoky and fruity, with spice and a backbone of satisfying oak. Lingering smoke and citrus fruits in the finish; complex, creamy and balanced. A lovely whisky which remains true to the essential Famous Grouse character, yet takes it into a different – and deeply satisfying – dimension.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £15.49, Sainsbury's.
|Famous Grouse, Black Grouse Alpha Edition (Scotland) |
The Famous Grouse has recently released a new variation on its Black Grouse blend, initially exclusive to travel retail outlets in the Nordic region and Russia.The Black Grouse Alpha Edition contains a higher percentage of aged, peaty malts to accentuate its smoky flavour. The name derives from the ‘alpha male,’ the most successful Black Grouse during the mating season displays.
Steven Sleigh of brand owner The Edrington Group says that “We are pleased with the initial reception to this new, rather exotic, member of The Famous Grouse family.Travel retail has in the past provided an excellent showcase for additions to the family, such as The Snow Grouse and The Black Grouse, so it was the natural habitat for the first flight of The Black Grouse Alpha Edition.”
The nose is mashy, with salted popcorn and singed wood notes. Initial fruit on the palate, then dark notes of peat, liquorice sticks and char develop. Very moreish.Lingering spicy char and aniseed in the finish.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, €33, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
|Famous Grouse, Blended Scotch (Scotland) |
Scotland’s best selling blended Scotch, and sampling makes it obvious why ‘Grouse’ continues to hold that position against fierce competition.
Lovely, delicate and floral on the nose – grains and malts working in perfect harmony. Deceptively rich and full for what is really quite a light bodied blend. Fruity, with a touch of smoke. Brittle toffee and spices, along with a hint of grain, in the medium finish. ‘Grouse’ cleverly manages to suggest that its component whiskies are older than they probably are. A classic example of how good ‘standard’ blended whisky at an affordable price can be.
40.0% ABV, 70cl, £13.00, widely available.
|Famous Grouse, Bourbon Cask Finish Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland) |
The Famous Grouse blend numbers among its constituent malts some great names such as The Macallan and Highland Park, and the latest ‘Grouse family’ offering is a limited edition expression finished in Bourbon casks.
The nose is delicate and floral, and just a touch sweeter than the standard blend, offering milk chocolate and coconut notes. On the palate there is fresh fruit, ginger and vanilla, but the vanilla does not overwhelm. The finish is quite long and spicy.
Finishes, as a genre, are often treated with a degree of scepticism, but this is a genuinely interesting and valid range extension rather than any kind of gimmick. Definitely one to try for yourselves.
40.0% ABV, 50cl, £13.99, Tesco.
|Famous Grouse, Scottish Oak (Scotland) |
Famous Grouse Scottish Oak Finish is a limited edition run of just 7,029 bottles, and comes in a presentation box, complete with a small section of cask made from Scottish Oak. The brand’s involvement with Scottish Oak follows Glengoyne’s well-received use of the same wood for finishing single malt, and this Grouse has been married exclusively for three years in the timber prior to bottling. The result is a blended whisky that is much richer, maltier and fruiter on the nose than the ‘standard’ offering, with greater profundity and enticing notes of spice. Notably smooth on the palate, with fresh oak notes and a long sweet, spicy finish. Don’t be put off by the price tag, as this is a genuinely interesting and characterful expression that should be experienced by every blended whisky drinker. It won’t do you any harm if your normal preference is for malts, either. 44.5% ABV, 50cl, £30, distillery website.
|Famous Grouse, Spanish Oak Special Edition (Scotland) |
This ‘Grouse’ expression for the global travel retail trade is in marked contrast to The Snow Grouse, having been matured for a time in first fill Spanish oak ex-Sherry casks.
The Famous Grouse is currently the fastest growing Scotch whisky brand in the travel retail sector, where The Black Grouse (see July’s Recent Releases) has performed extremely well, and The Edrington Group has signed an exclusive deal with travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann to offer this limited edition Spanish Oak expression.
William Ovens, Edrington’s area director for Global Travel Retail, says that “We have been very impressed with the focus Gebr. Heinemann gives travel retail exclusive products in their stores and our view was that it was an ideal operator to offer this wonderfully rich, Sherried version of The Famous Grouse.
“As a brand we are continually looking at ways of innovating and developing our brands, which will have a real resonance with operators and consumers alike, and this is just the latest in a number of recent and planned offerings from The Famous Grouse.”
The nose is rich and fruity, with ripe figs and a hint of aerosol furniture polish. Medium-bodied, fruity, spicy and Sherried in the mouth, with developing notes of molasses and dark chocolate. Water releases more fudge-like notes. The finish is medium in length, with fudge moving towards dry Sherry when water is added.
40.0% ABV, 50cl, 16 Euros, Duty Free & Travel Retail.
|Famous Grouse, The Black Grouse (Scotland) |
As reported in this month’s ‘Whisky News,’ The Black Grouse is the Edrington Group’s latest extension to the Famous Grouse range, and contains a significantly higher proportion of Islay malts than usual.
Quite dry on the nose, with developing cut grass, cereal notes and bonfire smoke. On the palate it is smooth and sophisticated in the best ‘Grouse’ tradition, full-bodied, with succulent fruit, grain and overt peat. The peat lingers in a satisfying, medium to long finish. A fine blend for Islay lovers who enjoy refinement as well as character in their drams, and who don’t necessarily want to pay the price of a single malt.
Currently available in Germany and The Netherlands, and from next month also in Nordic and Baltic regions, plus South Africa. Other European markets will follow.
40.0% ABV, 70cl.
|Famous Grouse, The Naked Grouse (Scotland) |
Over-the-top presentation of premium whiskies has long been a bugbear of the frugal souls here at ‘whisky-pages,’ and, as if in answer to our complaints along comes a whisky which is intended to “… choose taste over unnecessary packaging.” It goes by the name of The Naked Grouse – you can picture those television commercials already – and majors on The Macallan and Highland Park malts, “…slow-matured in sundried, Spanish sweet sherry casks – the most expensive in the world.”
Brand owners The Edrington Group go on to state that “This process gives the whisky an unrivalled smoothness of flavour. Fancy bows and unnecessary boxes have been left behind in order to concentrate on creating a new breed of Scotch that’s Sherried, ultra smooth and easy to drink.”
Plums. figs, dark malt, raisins, cocoa and oloroso Sherry on the big, bold nose. More sugary with time. Vanilla appears, then musky leather. More overt supple leather notes when water is added. Full-bodied for a blend, with rich fruit flavours and leather on the palate. Drying slowly with aniseed, liquorice and dark chocolate. 40.0% ABV, 70cl, £27.69, Asda, specialist whisky merchants.
|Famous Grouse, The Snow Grouse (Scotland) |
Presented in a decidedly vodka-like, frost-effect bottle, the Snow Grouse’s producers, The Edrington Group, boast that it has been ‘Smoothchill filtered.’ The fact that the term ‘Smoothchill’ has been trademarked reflects the importance placed on this procedure, which is in marked contrast to the trend among an increasing number of single malt bottlings to emphasise authenticity by a lack of chill-filtering. Drunk at room temperature, The Snow Grouse has a slightly metallic nose, with developing vanilla, ginger and peach. The palate is pleasant, without being highly flavoured, with clean cereal notes and fresh fruit, plus a developing taste of fruit malt loaf, which lingers through the medium length finish. Sampled from the freezer, there is an inevitable increase in viscosity, and while some of the characteristics of aroma and taste and dulled, there is a pleasing vanilla spiciness, and this is certainly an easy to drink whisky which would also make an ideal cocktail base. The Edrington Group is certainly to be commended for its innovation.
40.0% ABV, 100cl, 16.00, Duty Free & Travel Retail.