I remember a few years ago trying a miniature of The Famous Grouse. My only lasting memory of it is being closer to Vodka than whisky and being for want of a better word…crap. In the end it went down the sink which is never a positive outcome for any whisky drinking.
At the start of this year I visited the Glenturret distillery just before the Famous Grouse experience was packed up and put into storage post the selling of the distillery to a glassware company. With that in mind I thought it would be a good time to revisit Famous Grouse and complete the story with a review of one of the bottles in the quite large Famous Grouse portfolio.
Thinking about which one to try for the blog I thought it would be best to pick something that I would probably like. When considering that I thought I would think about which types of whiskies seem to be decent at a young age or after having some cost efficiencies added into the product. What I came up with was I needed a bottle with the peat channel turned up.
Peat is a great flavour source and quite a dominant one. This has worked effectively in a number of whiskies including Bowmores, ex-laph quarter casks in Wolfburn, Ardmores and Kilchoman’s. In some of these whiskies it masks a lack of flavour or too much spirit-y harshness and in others it allows a good spirit to be bottled earlier.
What that lead to is the Smoky Black version which is widely available in the UK in every supermarket and probably most bars. There isn’t much information but the peated whisky component is hopefully peated Glenturret which as you will know from my articles I thought was pretty awesome.
Colour – dark whisky colour
Nose – starts very sweet with lots of barley boiled sweets and brown sugar. This changes to have a darker plum note in time with caramel.
Palate – the texture isn’t that bad really it carries a lot of chilli and heat but nothing like the normal Grouse. There is nothing you would call peat there though something dirty and earthen but not peated.
Finish – Dry and spicy finish of quite a short length but very bitter
So this is a pretty decent whisky if we are honest and available for under £20 you cannot really complain. For me there is a lot of similarities to the Johnny Walker Black Label which must be the competition and product which they tried to emulate. In that endeavour they have definitely succeeded.