The Black Grouse is a peated version of The Famous Grouse. Being a blend they didn’t actually peat the barley specifically used for this whisky, like with a single malt, but instead have taken fully matured Islay whisky and blended it with some Famous Grouse. Originally created for the Swedish market, The Black Grouse was released in 2007.
There is some speculation about where the peated Islay whisky comes from with some folks thinking it’s Laphroaig, others thinking it’s Caol Ila and I even saw a post or two saying it was Ardbeg or Lagavulin. We can safely eliminate Ardbeg and Lagavulin from the mix due to how protective their owners are of these whiskies. For similar reasons it’s highly unlikely to be Laphroaig which leaves us with who I think it is. Diageo’s peated whisky work horse – Caol Ila. There’s no official documentation to support that claim, but with the state of the industry it seems to fit the best.
The Black Grouse Info
Blender: Matthew Gloag & Sons
The Black Grouse Review
Caramel ice cream topper
Noticeably more malt than the the regular Famous Grouse with notes of dark fruit, tropical fruit, grain, char, butterscotch and an acidic pop. Despite having Islay whisky blended in with it I’m not picking much up.
Dried apricots, char and tropical fruit initially dominate the palate. Grain whisky – towing bourbon-like notes of caramel and vanilla – comes through followed by notes of malt, toasted grains and oily nuts with a bit of smoke.
Medium fade of dark fruit, malt, caramel syrup and char.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Decent balance, medium body and a round smooth texture.
The Black Grouse is a noticeable upgrade over the Famous Grouse with a richer character and offering up more in the way of aromas and flavors, but it’s muddled. Neither the aroma nor palate are crisp, but I still liked sipping on it nonetheless and it achieved the goal of any good blend which is cohesion; a unified experience that makes it an innocuous sipper and cocktail whisky. So if you’re going to go with a Grouse I’d suggest making it a black one.
*Disclosure: This bottle of The Black Grouse was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.