The Famous Grouse
Review: The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky 80.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 26, 2010
The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky has a history in Scotland reaching back in time to 1896 when Wine Merchants, Matthew Gloag and Son, first blended their Grouse Whisky. Over the next nine years, the whisky became so popular that Matthew Gloag decided to add the word ‘famous’ to the name in 1905. Over the next century it would become one of the most popular brands of whisky in Scotland.
According to The Famous Grouse Website, the whisky is a blend which contains premium single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park. These single malts (as well as others in the blend) are married with a selection of fine grain whiskies in fully seasoned oak casks. The resulting blend is a complex whisky full of character and smoothness. This information is expanded upon on the website, where you can also find information regarding the full range of The Famous Grouse brand.
In the Bottle 4/5
As you can see from the picture on the left, The Famous Grouse, is named after the iconic game bird of Scotland, Lagopus lagopus scoticus, (better known as the Red Grouse). The bottle presentation, with its very nice red grouse logo is fine…except for the metal screw cap which tops it. I remain firmly convinced these caps are inferior to plastic caps as they allow evaporation from the bottle to occur more easily and are subject to warping when the metal perforations must be broken to open the bottle the first time.
In the Glass 8/10
The whisky displays an amber colouration in the glass with light coppery highlights. The initial nose is sweet and spicy with a hint of boggy peat rising into the breezes. As I allow the glass to decant the nose becomes richer with the aroma of toffee and vanilla entering the fray with mixed scents of citrus peel with a wisp of dry fruit.
It is the sweetness of the nose which has me a little concerned. It is sharp and penetrating and seems to be slightly out of balance with the rest of the aroma.
In the Mouth 48.5/60
The Famous Grouse is a blended whisky which contains the premium single malts, The Macallan and Highland Park. I was expecting to find ample evidence of these single malts in the flavour profile along with sharper notes of the grain whiskies (also included in the blend) entwined within. But this whisky is not like that.
Rather than the previously mentioned single malts providing the heart of the blend, it is the grain whiskies which provide the centerpiece of the flavour profile. Slightly sharp citrus and a moderately spicy toffee lead out on the initial palate which has a honey-like sweetness. A mild influence from the Highland Park’s famous Orkney peat is evident but is not in any way dominant. The influence from The Macallan is more remote as the famous Macallan sherry notes are buried further down and act to give the whisky only a lightly smoky character. I taste an influence of Glenrothes quite firmly, but I am uncertain as to whether the whisky from this distillery has made it into the blend or not. Some websites I have visited claim that it does and my tasting seems to support this.
In any case, the overall effect of the blend is pleasant. The whisky does seem a tad sweet for my palate with the grain element perhaps slightly sharper than I would like. However, the whisky also displays a strong character and complexity which kept the dram interesting throughout the tasting.
In the Throat 12/15
The whisky has a pleasant crisp exit, with a mellow toffee and a vague lingering peat providing the last moments. The sweetness I noted earlier seems to have burrowed itself into the back of my palate.
The Afterburn 8/10
The Famous Grouse is a nice pleasant Scotch Whisky. When I sip it, I prefer to add a couple of ice-cubes to mute the sweetness, and I found much more pleasure in mixing. Below are just a couple of the cocktails which I found very nice to enjoy.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup
Mix the first three ingredients over ice
Strain into a bar glass half full of ice
Complete with soda
Garnish with an orange slice and/or a cherry.
3/4 oz Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky
1/2 oz Cherry Whisky
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Naval Orange Juice
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a metal shaker
Strain into a suitable cocktail glass
Serve with no garnish
Remember the aim of my blog is not to help you drink more; it is to help you drink better! Please enjoy responsibly.
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)