Black Grouse Review

Producer: Famous Grouse/Edrington Group. Distiller: various. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Price: $25-30.

Over the holidays I needed a blended whisky to serve as a cocktail base, and it was the perfect occasion to assess the Black Grouse. It’s a mix of the Famous Grouse blend and unspecified peated single malts–Josh at The Whiskey Jug suspects Caol Ila, Famous Grouse’s website mentions “a rare version of Glenturret”…it’s a bit of a mystery.

On to the notes. The nose is malty and a bit waxy, with a core of tree fruit and tropical overtones. No hint of peat I could detect. The tropical fruit comes to the fore on the palate: mango and lychee. It’s only 40% ABV, so it’s a mild affair overall, but it’s sufficiently rich to hold a cocktail together. The peat comes through on the finish, warming though still quite soft, and lightly spicy.

The Black Grouse has recently been repackaged as “Famous Grouse Smoky Black,” with mixed reviews at places like Master of Malt, though some buyers unhelpfully compare it to Laphroaig or Ardbeg. That’s a mistake. It’s a mid-range blend, and isn’t meant to stand up to single malt peat monsters. But as a standby mixer that a single malt drinker can respect, I’d give it a solid recommendation.

Cheers, friends! – BO

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