Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Famous Grouse - Paper bag not required

 1. noun, plural: grouse, grous·es.
definition: any of numerous gallinaceous birds of the subfamily Tetraoninae.

2. adjective, Australian Slang
definition: excellent, great, wonderful

'Great' is probably a more universal word to describe my first reaction to tasting The Famous Grouse. To put this whisky into perspective, I bought it for thirty dollars. What can one expect from a thirty dollar bottle of blended whisky? I was actually thinking not much. Well I am glad to report I was wrong.

The recently updated bottle is long and stout-necked, made of clear glass and feels good in the hand. The label is comforting and features the grouse (see definition 1). Importantly, the overall package doesn't feel cheap and nasty, which is good given it's a relative inexpensive whisky.

I had heard this was a reasonable blend, but the price has always created skepticism. I felt a tinge of shame when purchasing my bottle.

"Did you want this in a paper bag?" says the shop keeper.
"Erh, um, yes thanks."

I knew this brand of blend was owned by the The Edrington Group, famous for The Macallan and Highland Park. I was happy upon reading the recipe is said to include both these malt's. Not a bad pedigree at all.

Could this be my new table whisky? Let's find out.

On the nose: I get that cheap whisky 'nostril-hair-fizzle', which I think comes from the ever present grain whisky in lower-priced blends. I believe it is lovingly referred to as furniture polish. Moving beyond this, the nose appears similar to Ballantine's Finest, with that vanilla-liquorice sweetness coming through. I am also getting slight sherry notes, the usual dried dark fruits.

To taste: lot's of lemon zest, pear and sea-salt coming through initially, fading to the vanilla sweetness. I find the whisky incredibly easy to drink, much easier than Ballantine's Finest (reviewed here and here). The whisky is thin, so the finish is short, but one should expect that.

In summary, I find this a reasonably priced blend that has been created to taste, rather than to mix. How would I rate it? I would give it four bolts of D.T.W.C. lightening (from a possible seven). However, the 'bang for the buck' with this whisky cannot be ignored. Would I buy it again? Yes, this has just become my new table whisky. A whisky that can be enjoyed into my pension years, when my pension cheque dictates that I can't afford that fancy single-malt stuff anymore.

I look forward to trying the 18yo vatted malt version, which is next on my list...

Keep truckin,
The Diplomat