I don’t really know what started this but I decided I would rope in a handful of people and give them some free samples. I only told them that is was whisky of some description and what the strength was. In return I asked them to come back with there opinions on each one in turn.

The people involved were all very different and I wondered if this would give some quite differing opinions on the three whiskies in the header image. We had people who bought a lot of whisky and those which did not. We had the young, the old and the somewhere in the middles and finally but certainly not least we had both men and woman involved in my mini blind challenge.

When interviewing each participate after the tasting I wanted to find out from them what they thought the value was of each whisky. Was it something they would buy? How much would they pay and kind of whisky was it? I wasn’t particularly interested in if they could say ohh this is a Highland Scotch or no no this is an Islay peater but rather is it malt whisky? and is it from Scotland?

With the range of prices for these whiskies varying quite dramatically I wondered if once all the branding and packaging is stripped away if there was any intrinsic quality to the whisky which could be justifying the price to our participates. In case you haven’t read my thoughts on each of these whiskies in my blog then can I suggest you do it now! (please :* ) However, the prices were £18 for the Naked Grouse, £50 for the Brenne and £75 for the Rock Oyster 18

Sample A: Naked Grouse


Universally everyone thought sample A was mellow, fruity and chilled. Most people thought it was traditionally scotch in nature and was identifiable as whisky. While some thought it was not very interesting most would buy it again. The expected price they would pay is around £25 in a supermarket.

All of this quite neatly agrees with my thoughts which is, you know, very fulfilling to my ego. I thought it represents great value, an excellent improvement on Famous Grouse and the packaging makes it a unusual and desirable gift.

SAMPLE B: Brenne Curvee


Brenne is the one which broke people. “It’s not whisky”, “Its something but I don’t know what” from people who were well versed in what whisky “should” be. Interestingly, people who didn’t like spirits or whisky much found this approachable and even likeable. I think this goes back to what I was saying my Brenne article that this whisky has a place and a profitable one for company when seen in the context of a niche sweet easy drinking product.

One comment described it like the Chinese spirit Maotai which is a new one for me. I have no idea if that is accurate or not but at least my blog now has probably a unique tasting note in it for Brenne. Its the small wins which count in the saturated blogging market guys!

Sample C Rock Oyster 18

The last sample was the most expensive and one with a fairly large age statement. To a lot of people just that amount of information means it must be the best. If you don’t like it there is something wrong with your taste or you have a bad batch.

One of the comments from a Ayrshire lad was the most damning.

“Tastes like a £11 offering from Lidl”

Quite unfair I would say with perhaps more experience with the bottle required to fully get to know the flavours. I agreed with most of the responses though that it didn’t warrant the price and it was overly brine-y to connect with all our participates. This blend has a noticeable Talisker dominance to it and it reinforces my belief that Talisker is more Marmite than a lot of commentary online would suggest. With an RRP of nearly £100 it is simply not worth the expense and our blind tasting agreed with that.


When all was said and done the order of preference went Naked Grouse, Rock Oyster and then Brenne bringing up the rear. Personally I would have Rock Oyster at the end with Brenne in the middle since I find myself reaching more for the French one over the Scottish Island blend.

One thought on “The Unfair Blind Taste Challenge

  1. Blind tasting is always challenging.
    It strips away preconceived ideas related to brands & generally folks are far more brutal and honest with their findings.
    It’s also great fun – which is what whiskey drinking should be.


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