Finishing these malts in first-fill oloroso casks helps produce a tempting nose of tangy marmalade, cherry, chocolate sponge, malt, and apple tart, with a rub of spice. Chocolate, spiced orange, pepper, and ginger notes before sweet toffee breaks through, allowing the orange peel-rich marmalade to mingle with the malt. It’s a big mouthful and definitely one to try.
Matthew Gloag introduced this classic blend in 1896, and now Kirsteen Campbell, master blender of Grouse since 2016, is taking it to new heights. Rich toffee, boundless baked orange notes, wood spices, dried banana chips, and some sweet floral top notes. Very smooth drinking, with citrus flavors, toffee and caramel, vanilla, ground ginger, star anise, and lemon peel. The spiciness abounds into the finish with well-rounded dark orange notes.
Compared to classic Grouse, this has more caramel notes, additional sweetness, and a greater delivery of lemon, vanilla, toasted coconut, and finely shredded orange peel. It’s lightly structured, drier, and comes with less-pronounced spices. Sipping reveals sweet light citrus, smooth caramel, vanilla sponge, apricot, soft fruits, and chocolate macaroon bars, with a late development of spice. Sweet caramel hangs on the lips. This is an easygoing, feel-good whisky.
Peated Glenturret lies at the heart of Smoky Black, but where will the master blender find her smoke when the distillery is sold? Contemporary bottlings are rich, warming, and comfortingly smoky, with chocolate, malt, cocoa, burnt fruitcake, and baking spices. Medium-weighted blend with malt, chocolate, and bourbon biscuits, interwoven with smoke, then cherry, baked apple strudel, and chocolate desserts. Dry smoke, ginger, pepper, and dark chocolate to finish.
Similar in profile to the 12 year old expression below, except that the bouquet is thicker, the sweetness is more caramelized, and the fruit notes are drier (no surprises). There’s also more depth and maturity in this whisky, more oak spice, and a longer, drier finish. An excellent value!
Legendary master blender John Ramsay handpicked the casks for this whisky, and the job was completed by his successor, Gordon Motion. Puffy marshmallows, nougat, fallen orchard fruit, green cardamom, and clove; it’s like all the threads pull together harmoniously. A lucid concentration of fruit mingles on the tongue, preceding flavor advancement through spearmint, menthol, light peat smoke, and burning orange oils. Sit back as it heads toward a spicy tingle of ginger, apple, and scorched coriander seed. Deservedly famous. £2,000
Available only at the distillery or online, and limited to 5,000 special decanters, this is a special Famous Grouse release to mark the 30th anniversary of the blend. Be careful, though: it's not a 30 year old blend. But it is excellent and there's lots of very old, woody, and ripe malt in the mix. As Highland Park and The Macallan are in the stable, expect a fruity, oaky, superbly balanced treat. £80
The Famous Grouse Double Matured 16 year old Vic Lee Edition, 40%
Blended Scotch Whisky | $99
Just eight whiskies in the blend, married and finished in first fill Spanish sherry and bourbon casks. An insistent nose, crackling with spices, with toasted Eccles cake anointed with grated nutmeg, vanilla extract, cassia, and dark soy sauce. Light honey and vanilla, tangerine oils, and lime peel exhibit perfectly-paced development, with flavor building over a minute or more. Warming ginger, spices, and tropical fruits of guava and papaya close out this first annual special edition. Impressive work.
The port cask finish wraps the toffee and baked orange in an extra layer of richness. There is subtlety in the aroma of the port notes, with red cherry and dried cranberry mingling with well-integrated spices in the background. Richer dark caramels infused with red fruits, including cranberry, red currant, and pomegranate, chased by feisty spices. The finish has concentrated red fruit juices, nougat, and long-lasting spices.
Lovely balance on the nose and palate. Soft and gently textured, too. The sweetness of the whisky (honey, fruit gum drops, and malty vanilla), dovetail nicely with light, bright citrus and teasing dried spices. Heather/floral notes enhance the whisky’s complexity. Clean, delicately polished oak finish. A very versatile, inexpensive, easy-drinking whisky.
For the past few years, Famous Grouse vintage vatted malt has been produced but not sold here in the U.S. They were in the 10-12 year old age range. This version being introduced to the U.S. is a non-vintage expression, and I don’t think it really matters. What matters is its taste. Major components of The Famous Grouse blended whiskies have included The Macallan and Highland Park, and there’s no doubt these malts are providing some of the richness and flavor complexity in this new expression. The whisky is quite hefty, with notes of juicy fruit, toffee, almonds, heather, and a wisp of vanilla and smoke. It is also very well balanced and quite a bargain for $30.
This has enticing flavors that will meet with the approval of the regular Grouse drinker: heady florals with fresh peach, light honey, pecan, and underlying caramel. The palate is soothing with vanilla and tangerine, hallmarks of Grouse, plus rosewater, almond, and whispering spices. Gently does it, that’s the key to this: kick back and relax. This showcases the Midas touch of Gordon Motion’s skills in liquid alchemy. A great value blend to boot. £22
A tribute this time from Edrington Group in the form of this one-off blend of The Famous Grouse. The sherried element seems to have been upped as it shows lavish amounts of dark chocolate, black cherry, and a little treacle, with some orange peel and, with water, raspberry and heather. The palate shows a hint of smoke and builds through rich flavors to a toffee-accented finish. Subtle and long. £25