Posts tagged ‘The Famous Grouse’

Phil’s Favorite Blended Scotches

Of all the genres of whisky in the world, by far the most famous and most recognizable on a global scale is blended Scotches. For many years, iconic brands like Dewar’s, Grant’s, and Johnnie Walker have ruled Scotch sales. In my sophomoric years as an avid whisky drinker, I must confess that I looked down upon blended Scotch whiskies, thinking that there was no way they could provide the same amount of enjoyment as single malts. But, I have come to learn with time that I was just a petulant youngster. Even though blends are immensely popular, it does not mean that there are not some brilliant blends out there. For the purposes of this list, blended malt Scotches are included as well. Here are the nominees for my favorite blended/blended malt Scotches.

Name: Compass Box Great King Street
Style: Blend
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 86 (43% abv)
Price: $45-50/750ml
Notes: This is the flagship whisky from Compass Box, one of the fastest growing blended whisky-makers in Scotland. It is a viscous, oily presentation of whisky, with rich flavors of vanilla, potpourri, and toasted bread. There are some gentle hints of freshly cut peat and sawdust that set the whisky out to be a fantastic dram. Although this is a little harder to find and a little pricier than many other flagship blends, it is well worth it. This is one tasty whisky.

Name: Compass Box “The Peat Monster”
Style: Blended Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 92 (46% abv)
Price: $50-60/750ml
Notes: This whisky belies its name somewhat, in that it is not at all a monster of peat. Of course there is peat involved, but it is a balanced whisky with oak, vanilla, and salted caramels to balance out the medicinal, peaty, and smoky notes. There is no question that this a whisky for peat-lovers, but its balanced and refined, a trait that I suspect comes from using peated whiskies from all over Scotland, not just from Islay. This whisky is readily available in most liquor stores. Definitely worth the try if you enjoy peated malt whisky.

Name: Compass Box “The Spice Tree”
Style: Blended Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 92 (46% abv)
Price: $50-60/750ml
Notes: The edition of this whisky I am referring to is the resurrected edition currently on shelves, not the original Spice Tree that created a stir with the SWSA. This whisky is mostly comprised of Highland malt whiskies that are blended together and finished in custom-made barrels comprised of both French and American oak. The result is a unique whisky with spiced and herbal notes, with soft rolling smoke and caramelized peppers. Like “The Peat Monster,” this whisky is readily available and a great addition to any Scotch-lovers cabinet.

Name: Famous Grouse 18 Year-Old
Style: Blended Malt
Age: 18 Years
Proof: 86 (43% abv)
Price: $70-80/750ml
Notes: This blended malt whisky is comprised primarily of Speyside and Highland whiskies aged in ex-Sherry butts. This elicits brilliant dessert whisky flavors of spiced tea cake, sherry, warm buttered bread, and toasted pecans. There is some nice ginger spice notes to balance the whisky out and add complexity. Tragically, this whisky was discontinued a few years ago, most likely because of dwindling stocks. However, if you are able to find a second-hand bottle at a price you can afford, this seductive whisky is worth the buy.

Name: Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
Style: Blend
Age: 18 Years
Proof: 80 (40% abv)
Price: $100-125/750ml
Notes: This recent addition to the Johnnie Walker lineup really got my attention the first time I tried it, and recent drams have proved worthy as well. This aged blend delivers great balance with notes of toffee, hazelnuts, and peaches-in-cream. All these flavors are wrapped up in a wonderful wafting of gentle smoke that coats the whisky from start to finish. In my opinion, this is the best assembly of whiskies in the Johnnie Walker lineup. It is available in most higher end liquor stores, although it does come at a cost…

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The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Review

Today, I am reviewing The Black Grouse blended Scotch Whisky.  Up to this point on the website, the only Scotches that I have reviewed have been single malts.  The difference between a single malt Scotch and a Blended Scotch is that the former is comprised of whisky made from a single mash bill, whereas blended scotches are made up of multiple whiskies blended into one.  Typically, a bottler like The Famous Grouse (creators of the Black Grouse) gets its whisky from other distilleries, but occasionally one of the whiskies will be self-distilled.  Generally speaking, blended Scotches are cheaper than single malts, mostly because single malts receive better ratings at whisky tastings.  However, that is not to say that all single malts are better than all blended Scotches.  In an effort to showcase a fine blended Scotch, I present my review of The Black Grouse.

The Black Grouse is made by blending The Famous Grouse (another fine blended whisky) with peated single malts from Islay.  It creates a very nice balance between the smoke of an Islay whisky and the fruits and florals of a Speyside.

On the nose, The Black Grouse is spicy and smoky, with good notes of peat, but also balanced with dried fruits and light sherry.  The palate is light-bodied, but very enjoyable.  It is mostly peaty, but there are some subtle notes of dried apricots and orange peels that whisper in the background.  The finish is medium-long, and it moves from smoke and peat to sweet oak and some cereal sweetness.

Overall, this whisky is not as bold or as complex as a single malt Speyside (like The MaCallan) or a single malt Islay (like Bunnahabhain).  However, it blends the two Scotch regions together wonderfully, making it a great introduction to peated Scotch.   My grade: C+.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is a nice blended whisky, worthy of having in the cabinet.