Blind tasting The Famous Grouse 40%

Nothing like tasting blind to set aside preconceived notions… particularly when it comes to well-known blends…

A version of this blend has been around since 1896 with the “Famous Grouse” name remaining consistent since 1905. Considered a top-selling whisky brand in the UK, I have to confess that I don’t recall ever having tried The Famous Grouse before.

What did we think?

Famous Grouse 40% 

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Raisins, sherry influence, oily and heavy, overripe fruits, wet mop and phenol, island influence, bit of brine, fermented bread, light iodine, wet leaves,
  • Palate – Smooth on the palate, gentle, watery softness, honey-sweet, nice mouthfeel, reminded a bit of mead
  • Finish – Soft white pepper, long, sherry element with juicy whisky soaked raisins

Nothing hugely distinctive or complex, but there were still some nice elements. However they were a bit curious – on the one hand, there was a briney Island style and on the other hand, a more traditional sherry dram.

We speculated this may be Scottish but beyond that? We had no clue!

Turns out this was the real “googly” in the mix for the evening. The other three were deliberately Scottish ‘adjacent’ whereas just for kicks, our whisky host decided to bring into our evening something we would not have expected!

With the reveal?

It all made sense – why there was a duality of character, why it came across as Scottish but not distinctively this or that. The Famous Grouse is known to use both Highland Park and Macallan – which certainly helped explain what we found!

As for the official notes?

  • Appearance: Full golden, clear and bright
  • Aromas: Candied fruits, buttery shortbread, citrus peel
  • Taste: Dried fruit, soft spices (cinnamon/ginger), hint of oak
  • Finish: Smooth, well balanced

Interesting to try and why I enjoy blind tastings! Here is what else we tried that evening:

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Glenturret 10 year 40%

Prompted by a recent revisit of Kichoman’s Machir Bay in Singapore, I decided to unearth from our archives a tasting session which occurred in September 2013 with Glenturret 10 year, Auchentoshan 14 year Cooper’s Reserve and Kilchoman Machir Bay.

It was an evening mad with the cacophony of Ganapati processions, requiring all of us to brave nasty traffic snarls to exclaim by the end of the evening – “It was worth the effort to come!”

Glenturret, Auchentoshan Cooper's Reserve, Kilchoman Machir Bay

Glenturret, Auchentoshan, Kilchoman

Glenturret 10 year 40%

  • Nose – Light sweet nose perhaps with a hint of lemon
  • Taste – Not so sweet on the palate, a bit spicy but still smooth with a tinge of bitter kerela (bitter gourd)
  • Finish – While the finish didn’t linger too long, it was quite pleasant
  • Water – With a couple drops of water, it became even more mellow and an enjoyable light treat

None could guess the distillery though it was clearly not a Speyside or Islay. With the unveiling it was shared this particularly Highland whisky was bought at the distillery and, back in 2013, not readily available beyond the distillery doors…

Glenturret is found on the Turret River in Perthshire. Touted to have been established in 1775 with some earlier elicit efforts from 1715, it claims to be the ‘oldest distillery in Scotland.’ Today it is better known for the “Famous Grouse Experience.”

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