The ‘Famous Grouse’ came to life in 1905, and was known as the ‘Grouse Blend’ prior to being renamed. Much of the blends existence can be attributed to almost a century ago in 1800, when Matthew Gloag, a native of Perth, Scotland started his establishment, ‘Matthew Gloag & Son’. A grocer and a wine merchant by profession, he used to purchase whiskies from neighboring distilleries and sell them at his store or in nearby local markets. His big break came in 1842, when Queen Victoria visited Perth and he was asked to supply the spirits for the Royal Banquet. Things grew from there and so did the reins, from father to son, William in 1860 and then to William’s nephew, Matthew. It was Matthew who perfected the ‘Grouse Blend’ in 1896 which instantly became a hit and his daughter Phillipa who designed the ‘Grouse’ icon. Popularity grew such that Matthew later renamed the blend to be called ‘The Famous Grouse’ as it is popularly known today.
The bottle has a very conventional look, with absolutely no curves or cuts that would make it worth remembering. But don’t be fooled, this highland blend is known for its contents which have made it one of the most selling whiskies within Scotland and the UK; not to mention its availability in over 100 countries.
The proportions of grain to malt that make this blend isn’t readily available, but we do know that the Grouse distillery shares the same space as that of the Glenturret and also incorporates the malt in addition to those from the distilleries of Highland Park, Glenrothes and Macallan (just to name a few). The aging is done in a combination of American Bourbon and European Sherry Oak barrels, and then further married for a few months to bring that unique flavor profile to your lips.
The whisky itself is youthful, very much reflective of the thin narrow legs that swiftly trickle down the walls of the glass. Physically it looks light bodied, smooth and slightly slick in nature; with the youngest whisky being at least 3 years old.
ABV: 40% / Proof: 80%
Eye: Deep Gold in color.
Nose: Overly sweet caramel and toffee fused with shards of butter and wood. A fruitiness like that of citrus, lime, green grape and sherry accompanied by a hint of spice. And although not very peaty, you do sense that little bit of burnt char and earthiness on the nose.
Taste: Quite grainy, yet light. Artificially sweet, with traces of honey, raisins and a smidge of banana. As we move closer to the finish you begin to savor that white pepper and smoke.
Finish: Spicy pepper with a dry sweetness.
In my opinion, the Grouse is a decent dram with quite a bit of complexity to show off for the price. The nose was complex and clear-cut with the sherry shining through. However, the slight artificial sweetness on the palate was a bit of a turn off, but nevertheless quite interesting and yet enjoyable.
The Grouse can be relished neat, along with soda or as a cocktail; and for the price it is quite a steal. It ranks above the ‘Black & White’ and is more flavorful than ‘Ballentine’s Finest’ but would most definitely fall short of the Teacher’s Highland or the JW Red Label.