Tag Archives: Famous Grouse

Advent Day 9: The Naked Grouse

It gets naked on Day 9 of Advent…Naked Grouse…

The Naked Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV

What the Blender Says
Whisky at its most uncomplicated.

Convention said that blended malt got its flavour from bourbon casks, used again and again. This got us thinking… What if instead, we used first fill sherry casks to add another layer of rich and fruity flavour to our malts? It didn’t just work, it was a joyful exuberance of flavour that changed the possibilities of whisky enjoyment.

So hats off (and everything off!) to Naked Grouse, for taking a liberating leap into the unknown.

What Richard Says
Nose: Oily polished oak, stewed fruits, malt, and vanilla custard.
Palate: Very light flavored with bits of jarred cherries and vanilla cream.
Finish: Short and mellow.
Comments: Meh. Nice and easy to drink but very light and nothing that stands out to make you want more. A scotch for vodka drinkers?
Rating: Average

The Black Grouse

The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$25 to $30
What the Blender Says:
To create the distinct smokiness of The Black Grouse, we take our Famous blend and enhance it with specially selected peated malts. The resulting Black Grouse whisky has a distinctive peaty character, which comes through in spice and dried fruit flavours with a long aromatic finish, reminiscent of our Famous blend.

Appearance: Dark, Russet golden, Clear and bright
Aroma: Smoky, Soft and Musky, Rich and full
Taste: Full flavour, Spice and dried fruits, Smoke through the oak
Finish: Long, Smoky, Aromatic

What Richard Says:
Nose: A very vegetal and meaty peat.
Palate: Light fruity sweetness layered between a little pepper spice and soft handed smokey notes.
Finish: Subtle, with a long, slow build through herbal bitters to a heavy grass note.
Comments: This is not really a bowl you over dram. It stands out against it’s peers (Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker Red, etc.) but falls short against heavier hitters. A pleasant enough dram but not something that sings ‘come back to me’.
Rating: Average

Event Notice: Highland Park Tasting and Cigar Pairing

For those that don’t know {three} sheets over in Sandy Springs has a Scotch and Cigar Club series. The June event will include tastings of Highland Park and Famous Grouse. Here are the details:

Who: {three} sheets
When: Thursday, June 14, 2012 from 6PM to 10 PM
Where: 6017 Sandy Springs Circle, Atlanta, GA 30328
Pour: Highland Park 12, 15, & 18 plus Famous Grouse and Black Grouse
Price: $20 for the flight of scotch and an extra $10 for the cigar pairing
RSVP: 404-303-8423

Drink wisely my friends,


WhiskyFest NYC 2010 Recap

(I know I’m a little late getting this posted)

I have mixed emotions about this year’s WhiskyFest NYC.  Mostly, my mixed feelings come from personal issues (although I found the new floor plan disorienting).  Usually, I go in with a plan and a wingman (or woman).  This year, my work schedule kept my planning to a minimum and my wing folk were not there.  I noted the change in the layout on the map before entering, yet I felt lost with my first step.  I had a small plan, but that quickly unraveled as I was lost in the crowds.  My intention was to try all the microdistilleries (of which there where many this year) and some of the newer drams on my list of desirables.  Somehow, I tried fewer drams than ever, chatted with folks more than ever, but still came out drunker than I’ve been in many a year.  Long time readers will know that I abhor drunkenness, both in others and myself.  For those of you who may have seen me in such a state, I apologize.  For those who reached out and a hand and helped guide me home, I am deeply grateful.

Now that we’ve got the maudlin crap out of the way, let’s talk about the parts of the night that remind me why I return to WhiskyFest year after year.

When everyone is in the same room together like this, you can feel the heartbeat of the industry.  It’s electric.  This year, even more than years past, the heartbeat is driven by adventure and experimentation.  I’m not talking about a Wellesley girl’s curious dalliances.  I’m talking about mad scientist meets religious zealot.  And its not just for the kids anymore.

There were whiskies made from bottle ready beer and unusual grains, trusty standards bringing something new to the table and old timers drawn out of retirement to destroy what you thought you knew about whisk(e)y.

Before arriving, one thing high on my list to try was WhistlePig Rye.  After all, rye whiskey has not received this much press since Sazarac blew up the category some years ago.  Believe the hype (no matter what Chuck D and Flava Flav try to tell you).  Smooth, complex, spicy and hardy, WhistlePig is a muscular wrestler of a dram that will choke you out in a way that is close to auto-erotic asphyxiation.  To borrow an idiom from our friends in Edinburgh, this is a dram for David Carradine or Michael Hutchence.

I’ve been on a bit of a blended Scotch kick lately, so I thought I’d give Black Grouse a try.  It was so good, I decided to give the rest of the Famous Grouse line a go.  No dice.  For me (and the consensus I heard), the Black Grouse is the best of the line.  It is also quite affordable.  Score.

The next real stunner was Lombard Whiskies’ Dailluaine 1973.  File this under “dram I will never taste again.”  Rare and old, this is a Sherry bomb of immense complexity.

Charbay was there with a whole line of whiskeys made from bottle ready beers (none ready for store shelves).  All were interesting.  I was in love.  There was on made from stout that was particularly good.  The bad news is that the last Charbay whiskey retailed for $300, so be prepared to give your left nut for one of these.  But, hey, if Lance Armstrong can get by with one, so can I.  The market for Neuticals just went up.  I know that the folks at Charbay are loyal Whisk(e)y Apostle readers so maybe they can send us more information on these enchanting drams.

The last whiskey to really get me going was Stranahan’s Snowflake.   Stranahan’s is a whiskey that keeps improving and the Snowflake bottlings really live up to the hype.  This could definitely keep me warm on a cold winter’s night.

Wemyss Vintage Malts should get an honorable mention here.  Nothing too stunning, but a solid line at a good price point.  My favorite of the bunch was the 15yo called “The Hive.”  More honeysuckle than honey, this would be an excellent summertime dram.

Now we come to the drams that I thought I would love but was unimpressed.  Of course, I assume this to be situational and would like to try them all again.

I’ve grown to expect a lot from Amrut and Yamazaki (Suntory) over the years, but I found both the Amrut “Intermediate Sherry” and the Yamazaki 1984 a little light on the palate.  This may be a timing issue.  I hit the Yamazaki table after WhistlePig and Amrut after Lombard.  Anything would taste bland after WhistlePig and Dailluaine 1973.  The Glenmorangie Finealta needs another chance as well.

Most of the oat, millet, and wheat offerings didn’t do much for me.  Too smooth and one-dimensional.  As these smaller distilleries grow, I’m sure they will find their legs and (hopefully) the right market.

There were a great deal of whiskies that I missed out on while I chatted with brand ambassadors, distillers, and other acquaintances.  I was glad to see that the U.S. Bartender’s Guild seems to be growing to be accepted at an event that caters mostly to the hard line “whisky should only be served neat” crowd.

Since Richard was not with me, I accosted Kris Comstock of Buffalo Trace for him.  I asked him to expand Atlanta’s allocation for the Antique Collection (I got your back buddy).  Fingers crossed on that one.

Well, that covers most of my night.  If you were there, let me know what you thought.

Remember:  Do as I say, not as I do.

Drink well, drink responsibly.