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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
(revisited February, 2014)

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. Although the home of Famous Grouse is the Glenturret Distillery, according to The Famous Grouse Website, the whisky is a blend which contains premium single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park.

The Famous GrouseIn 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 just barely 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 the whisky was 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 it 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 mild influence of dry fruit and raisin. I do taste what appears to be 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 Glenrothes is indeed part of the blend, 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 elements 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.

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Suggested Recipes

For my suggested recipes I am going to stay somewhat traditional giving you my recipes for two very popular Scotch whisky cocktails. The Scotch Collins (Also called John Collins) and Blood and Sand.

Scotch CollinsScotch Collins

1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 tsp simple syrup
Soda
ice

orange slice
brandied cherry

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 brandied cherry.

Remember the aim of my blog is not to help you drink more; it is to help you drink better! Please enjoy responsibly.

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Here is a classic cocktail which is said to have been named after the 1922 film Bullfighter which starred Rudolf Valentino. It is usually made with common orange juice, but using the juice of the blood orange adds a certain flair to the cocktail.

SAM_1022 Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz Scotch Whisky
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Heering (sub cherry brandy)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
ice
Orange Zest
Brandied Cherry

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with flamed orange zest and a brandied cherry

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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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)

3 Responses to “The Famous Grouse”

  1. While I am not a fan of this particular Famous Grouse bottling, I must say the 30 year old is one of the finest drams I have ever had.

  2. Mike said

    Nice review once again. I’ve never been disappointed with a Grouse product. Black Grouse is a big step up from this bottle. I’ve also had three of their blended malts: 12 year old, 18 year old, and 30 year old. Great value all around.

    • I was originally given a bottle of the Black Grouse to review, but since The Famous Grouse is the beginning of the line up I decided to start here. My initial impression of the Black Grouse has been very positive and I hope to have the review ready soon.

 
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