The Famous Grouse website details the growth of the Gloag family’s local grocery into a supplier of wine to the royal family to sellers of whisky starting 1896. Originally advertised as an “aid to digestion and preventive of acid” because outlandish medical claims were in style at the time. In 1970 it was rolled into Highland Distillers, who later soaked up Macallan & Highland Park before itself being consumed by the Edrington Group, a smaller private Scottish company.
There are a few Grouses which appear to be designed for different markets and then released more generally. The Black Grouse is a blend of the regular Grouse with a peated whiskey to give it a more robust flavour, originally launched in 2007 for the Swedish market. It must have been successful as it is now available in Canada, but I can’t help but think how far this is from Mackmyra’s light flavour and intense burn, this seems quite opposite. Maybe that’s why it’s available in Canada now – the Swedes didn’t want it. Well, that’s cool, because we liked it just fine. Here’s what we thought:
Dan – corn flowers
Simon – peaty, smokey, definitely darker than Famous Grouse
Ryan – floral sweetness, stained wood, vanilla
Goran – definitely a blend, harsh whisky smell, cherry, not much peat
Dan – thin & dry, almost gritty, smoke, sanded wood
Simon – light & smooth initial, significant burn, loud smoke, sweetness
Ryan – peaty, tongue burn, less harsh, almost irish, sweet
Goran – chocolate, coffee
Dan – apple
Simon – softens, becomes refreshing, smokes smooth
Ryan – same, cleaner
Goran – mellow but spicier finish
Try it? Yes. Buy it? Yes.