Drink Review: Black Grouse

November 22, 2020
3 mins read

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A timely innovation from Famous Grouse – this blend is based on peated Islay malts, and promises ‘reassuring smoothness with aromatic, peaty flavours’.

Black Grouse Review: 

Smells of pine, dried grass, vanilla and a touch of sherry. Really nice. A slow burn, with a foretaste of bitter chocolate and a toasty finish. The peat is subtle, however, in this strong-tasting Islay blend.

A true peat lover’s dram: this malt whisky was blended to creatively streamline the classic ingredients of Islay malts, with no added flavourings, to preserve the natural peat flavour.

Heady, with a brisk but subtle smoky, earthy, medicinal taste at first. The burn of the smoke kissingly tickles the tongue of the brave peatophobe. The more that is swallowed, the stronger the reaction, however, and eventually the peat takes over and the flavour begs for release in the form of this mysterious, concoction of liquid nutrients.

The taste is stinky, yet laced with a distinct line in sweetness, and it is easy to understand why this whisky has been so popular with Islay distillers, it really is that great. The aftertaste lingers for a long, long time, and it makes you want to partake in another dram – and then another, and another… And another…

After a superficial massaging with the tongue, the second round is driven by a smooth sweetness and the burn of the smoke gets stronger. The peat finds its way through the celebration of sherry, and the mysterious taste reveals itself to the tongue. The body slips down well and it feels like a perfect summer’s day!

Smooth, sweet, warm, smoky, balanced – the Isle of Islay is in a state of celebration today!

Black Grouse Review: 

Smells of very faint peat and leaves a slight smokiness on the tongue of the eager taster, while the peat is still very subdued.

Sweet smoky sherry and pleasant, yet not overwhelming, smoke. The taste is smooth, warming and has a kind of caramel sweetness, and the burn of the peat really shines through. It is easy to see why this blend is called ‘Grouse’.

A very nice and easy-going dram, the taste is bold yet subtle, and the intense sweetness really draws you in for the entire drink. The finish lingers for a long time, and it is filled with the welcoming touch of peat.

With an increased intensity in the smoke, “Grouse” is the same character as before, but at a higher level. The aftertaste grows on the tongue, and it is left with a feeling of reward and joy. It could be described as a ‘grouse’ of a very high quality, but it is a very good blend.

Black Grouse Review: 

The nose is nothing special, but the taste is downright peat. This is why it is called ‘Grouse’. The aftertaste is a gentle, smooth, sweet, short smoke that lingers on the tongue. The standard flavor of the Islay blends remains visible throughout, with the Islay flavors taking over a little in the end.

The nose of “Grouse” lacks complexity. The smoky sherry’s subtle sweetness is in full swing. There is a smooth bitterness lurking in the back of the throat and a clear hint of vanilla.

Smoky, sweet, fruity and bitter. The peat is nice, but after taste is a bit disappointing. It is truly a disappointment because this whisky is made from only two ingredients, which is very rare for a whisky and very rare for an Islay. It must be very difficult to make a whisky fully of Islay.

Black Grouse Review: 

Black Grouse in my opinion improves with water: the more you add, the better it gets. It is also a good idea to mix this whisky with something very heavy like cream, or to drink half with water and half with something else, like cracked black pepper.

The goal of the blend is to provide the characteristic smoothness of the peat taste which is not complex. The nose starts with a drying peat, then it smoothly transitions to the sweetness of dried fruits marinated in both peat and sherry. In the end, the sherry carries the dominant taste, with peat as a supporting character.

“Grouse” is a traditional 16 year old peated Islay malt from Seafarers Choice.

A blend of Islay malts was recommended by Bertie Fletcher, who was formerly the Teacher of Blenders at Diageo, and who has since retired to rural Scotland. I do not know what the peat level is

Grouse – Islay country code.

The Best of Aussil styles, and the ultimate for true Islay experience. The unique flavors of classic, natural Islay are usually referred to as ‘peatiness’, but this is something of which deep is not possible to find in a single malt. The flavour is infused with other characteristics of the island than just peat.

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