Since my introduction to scotch, and whisky in general, one of my favourite blends has been The Famous Grouse. While Johnnie Walker Black has the reputation (and price to match), I don’t find it to be a significant improvement.
The Famous Grouse is obviously a blended scotch whisky, which is to say it is a blend of malt whiskies (including the Glenrothes, Highland Park Single Malt, and Macallan Single Malt), as well as whiskies made from other grains. Specifically, it consists of about 65% grain whiskies including North British and Cambus. Named after Scotland’s national game bird, The Famous Grouse has become so popular it claims to be the “#1 selling scotch whisky in Scotland.” In 2006 it was given an award for best value blended scotch under $20.
Now onto the taste. Jim Murray gives it 83/100, with the individual rankings being 21 for nose, 23 for taste, 19 for finish, and 20 for overall balance and complexity. In his words, The Famous Grouse “remains sexy, elegant, and refine with a stunning opening on the palate.” Others have commented on the taste of roasted nuts, caramel, dried heather, and sherry oak aromas. Previous reviews may be found at RecentEats and The Intoxicologist.
I myself find it a very round and smooth, with a honey-like sweetness and a hint of peat. The finish is great, with mellow toffee notes coming through. I’m no expert whisky taster, but to my palatte it has a great balance of flavours, if maybe a bit sweet. The nose can be a bit harsh, but after a few sips and some air it mellows out. I myself like it neat, but know others who prefer it with a few drops of water, saying that cuts down on some of the bite in the nose.
Of the entry-level blends I’ve tasted, to me Grouse takes the cake, surpassing Grant’s, Ballantine’s, and others (although I’m sure others think differently). It has some very nice flavours, even coming from a blended scotch. For its price and great taste, The Famous Grouse makes a great daily drinker and choice for those on a budget.