Whisky Advocate

Review: The Black Grouse

October 28th, 2010

The Black Grouse, 40%, $29
One might assume this to be just a smoky version of the standard Famous Grouse (with its honeyed malt, bright fruit, and floral demeanor). But, in addition to the enhanced smoke (which caringly adds a new dimension without smothering the other flavors), there also seems to be more malt body and oak spice in the mix, which I think takes Black Grouse to a higher level than Famous Grouse. The grain whisky contributes a “drinkability” component, making it a great introduction to smoky whiskies.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 86

31 Responses to “Review: The Black Grouse”

  1. gal says:

    i have to agree.

    tasted this one in a FG tasting, and it’s nice as a starter’s whisky.

  2. lawschooldrunk says:

    finally arrived in the USA! Now where is snow grouse? :)

  3. This was the whisky that triggered my interest in smoky, peaty malts in particular and malt in general. A really great dram for the price.

  4. Matt J. says:

    Has anyone tried the “Naked Grouse”? Apparently it is being test marketed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (and maybe elsewhere, don’t know) but at $30 a bottle there are other things I will buy with proven track records (HP 12, Johnnie Walker Black, etc.)

  5. Red_Arremer says:

    Anyone care to compare contrast this to any other widely available peated blends 20-30$ (Black Bottle Original, Johnny Walker Black, Isle of Skye 8, etc..)– on the basis of the impression of maturity, peatiness, and how the grain works?

    • mark davis says:

      I second this inquiry. This product is priced right between those two products. When entertaining I have found people that don’t drink like me love black bottle with coke. more gateway products with more well known names is good.

      Thanks for reviewing more mainstream products :)

    • Mr Claw says:

      Personally I prefer Black Grouse to Johnnie Walker Black and Black Bottle. Haven’t tried the Isle of Skye so can’t comment.

    • George Jetson says:

      My personal order of preference Ballantine’s 17, Islay Mist 17 (both slightly out of your price range), IoS 8, JWB, BG, Islay Mist 8, BB.

  6. Di Blasi says:

    Great tasting notes John, well put! The first time I had it was blind, in a tasting and it was a stunner, fell in love instantly! It’s true that it’s a great introduction to smoky whiskies as this doesn’t overwhelm or scare people off.

  7. Jacob says:

    I had to go out and buy a handle of this based on the reviews I’ve read. My first impressions:

    More similar to regular Famous Grouse than I expected with sweet fruit notes, especially on the nose. It did not really impress me as a “smoke bomb”, but then I regularly drink Ardbeg. Gains the most over regular Famous Grouse in the finish. Regular Famous Grouse finish is short and rough. Black Grouse finish is pleasant with nice wood and soft smoke.

    Overall it will be a nice mid-week regular dram and a good value. I think John’s 86 is a little generous though.

    Black Grouse tastes like what I expected JW Black to taste like. I like Black Grouse better. I like Black Bottle 10 still better (I’ve not tried the regular Black Bottle). I’ll have to head-to-head Black Grouse and Teacher’s.

    • John Hansell says:

      And I thought that maybe I was being too tough, rating it an 86. (But yes, I like Black Bottle 10 a lot too!)

    • Mark Davis says:

      is BB10 available in America? Here in NYC I had a pretty hard time finding black bottle. I would say less than 20% of shops have it.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        As far as I know, Black Bottle 10 has been discontinued, Mark… But I’ve still got one stashed :) — you could probably find a stray bottle somewhere though

        • David Allan says:

          Black Bottle 10yo was discontinued about 3 years ago, due to lack of availability of stock. If you do find a bottle, I would recommend buying it.

          • Red_Arremer says:

            Yeah BB10 is a relic of a different age, before Islay malts became so ultra marketable. Obviously Burn stewart can still get the 3-6 year stocks for BB original. If they wanted to sit on some of it they could probably put out a BB10 again. Seems unlikely as they are more in the midst of increased investment in their single malt brands– but who knows…

          • David Allan says:

            Who nows indeed. We will just have to wait and see what is available in the next few years.

  8. B.J. Reed says:

    Everybody, stop “Grousing” :)

  9. Henry H. says:

    I often scare up a grouse – and myself in the process – on my property, but the only one ever to grace the cabinet is the regular bottling, which neither scares nor pleases me very much. While we’re on the subject of the Grouses, how do folks like the 12 and 18 yo vatted malts? Worth a try?

  10. George Jetson says:

    I think the Black Grouse is a very decent blend and worlds beyond that FG Islay Cask abomination a few years ago. The smoke is well integrated and the character of the other malts and grain is not lost under the cover of peat. It is another interesting tweak to what is a pretty good blend to begin with. I’ve been hauling bottles back from duty-free for a while now, so it is good to see it on the shelves locally. Same goes for Islay Mist. Now I can bring back other goodies from abroad.

  11. Bessy says:

    Black Grouse is fantasic!!!! You can find it in very few and very upmarket bars in Greece….wish we could find it in more places!
    Snow Grouse, I like it in cocktails! Nice choice if you want something lighter, something refreshing!!!
    I admit it……I am a Grouse fun!!!!!

  12. Mark Hewes says:

    I don’t know what it is. I just cracked this open. Just tastes. I don’t know. Cheap?
    I normally drink Speyburn 10 yr old.
    I drink Jamesons too keeps costs in control.
    This just. I don’t know. Hmm.

  13. Jake Parrott says:

    I also find Black Grouse makes an excellent Whisky Skin or other hot whisky toddy. The sweetness and smoke are so well integrated and the lemon peel supports perfectly.

  14. Jack L. Wright Jr. says:

    I like it and thats all I give a DAMN about

  15. ross says:

    It’s my new go-to dram. Talisker it aint, but neither is the price. :^)

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