Grangestone @ Total Wine

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Original post: Grangestone @ Total Wine

AKGcandlefish wrote:

Anybody else shop at Total Wine? For the past three months, every time I go in, I get the hard sell on Grangestone (I've even had a plain-clothed "shopper" give me virtually the same pitch, only to see him conversing casually with an employee later; pretty sure he was an off-duty manager).

I find it really obnoxious how hard they push this Scotch. I've watched employee after employee answer questions from less-informed Scotch drinkers looking for recommendations, and it doesn't matter how they describe what they're looking for, the answer is Grangestone.

Well, I finally pushed back and demanded they put-up or shut-up, so I got a sampling of the 12, 18, and 21-year varieties. All I can say is, they were fine for the price, but incredibly one-note and anonymous in character. I like Scotch for the discovery of all the incredibly nuanced scents and flavors one finds in a really good bottle. I found none of that in any of the Grangestones and would steer clear of them. The employee who gave me the samples even admitted that the managers get financial kickbacks for every Grangestone sale. Talk about a racket.

16th Feb 2013 20:18 @reply AKGcandlefish

Replies (showing 1-30 of 38)

Onibubba wrote:

@AKGcandlefish Cross them off the list. Shop elsewhere. That crap really pisses me off.

16th Feb 2013 20:45 @reply Onibubba

valuewhisky wrote:

Thanks for sharing, I occasionally shop at Total Wine. I had no interest in trying the Grangestone, but still nice to know!

16th Feb 2013 21:14 @reply valuewhisky

bwmccoy wrote:

Thanks for info. Really appreciate it!

17th Feb 2013 02:25 @reply bwmccoy

Newkophile wrote:

Same experience here on two occasions at the TW&L in Boynton Beach. One nice perk however is that if you feign interest you will be taken into a back room where you can sample the 12 and 18 varieties for a nice little hit before you eventually exit the store (hopefully with something else, as I recently did with a Glenmorangie Lasanta). I too find these Grangestone products well-priced but not all that terribly distinctive.

9th Apr 2013 16:54 @reply Newkophile

MarceloL wrote:

@Newkophile I just picked up the Grangestone 21 ( I was going into Total Wine to pick up a Highland Park 18 for myself for my birthday ), when the sales guy suggested the Grangestone18...the $59 price through up a red flag immediately, but then I saw the 21, and figured, "maybe it's got a little more refinement". BIG MISTAKE.

It's got a light apple nose to it, but dear Lord is the vanilla all over this thing. Even my wife ( who has stuck with my tastes...even so far as going with me through a Laphroaig Quarter Cask with me ) saying, "We've had way better...how much did you spend on that ?". Now I've been a single malt guy (I have a "no blends allowed" sign in my house) since I first tasted a Macallan 30 when I turned 18 (yes, it was that long ago that 18 was still the legal drinking age). My tastes have matured, but this Grangestone 21 gives me nothing I can't get from the Costco 15 year old they sell. It's certainly better than drinking a Cardhu 12, but I can get the same or better experience out of a bottle of Glen Morangie 10 for a third of the price.

If their 12 and 18 are along the same lineage as this Grangestone 21...then the family needs to go back to school. With all the "refinement" it's lost any sense of sweetness or kindness that a Highland Park 18 will greet you with immediately upon soaking it's way over your palatte.

Like it's been said in the movies.....move along folks. Nothing to see here.

9th Jun 2013 02:21 @reply MarceloL

Nolinske wrote:

It has been mentioned by other posters on other forums that the managers and salespeople get a bonus for each bottle of grangestone they sell at total wine so pretty much sums up why they push it so hard

9th Jun 2013 03:23 @reply Nolinske

CanadianNinja wrote:

I'm very pleased to say I've never had this kind of experience in Japan. In this country, whisky is usually sold in department stores and markets where the staff really doesn't have any knowledge about whisky, so you're left on your own to explore. I usually prefer it that way. On the rare occasion when I want some advice I'll make a trip to one of the many shops in Tokyo which specialize in whisky.

Sorry to go off topic here but @MarceloL, do you still have that 'no blends allowed' sign? If so I think you're missing out on some wonderful whisky my friend ; )

9th Jun 2013 03:42 @reply CanadianNinja

broadwayblue wrote:

I've never heard of Grangestone before. Is this a Total Wine "exclusive"?

9th Jun 2013 03:48 @reply broadwayblue

MarceloL wrote:

@CanadianNinja Yes, I do, and frankly aside from JW Blue I hardly ever venture beyond. If I'm going to spend $50+ on a blended whisky I've found that I could always find a single malt that could do the job just as admirably for me. I don't discount that there are some great blends out there, I'm just saying I strongly prefer to not partake. That being said, I still have a bottle of Canadian Club that my son won in a raffle, and gave to me (yes he knows my preference, but it was a gift of the sort I wouldn't re-gift), sitting unopened in the liquor cabinet.

In just a little while, the short stint of Grangestone in my house will come to an end when I take this bottle back to Total Wine. Like I said, their 21 doesn't take me anywhere beyond where a Glen Morangie 10 does. And it's definitely nowhere near the Highland Park 18 I was walking into the store to get.

9th Jun 2013 16:30 @reply MarceloL

MarceloL wrote:

@Nolinske Yeah I get that now. I can only classify this under the "If only I had known". But, this is a mistake quickly corrected.

9th Jun 2013 16:32 @reply MarceloL

Jonesz wrote:

@MarceloL Let us know the response at total wines OK? I usually shop there in the winter, have had no problems but would like to know what their service is like. BTW had a noobie friend stop there last winter and he asked for advice. You guessed it he came back home with a bottle of Grangestone which he said was supposed to be "way better than some more expensive bottles" It was drinkable and nothing off but had no real redeeming qualities IMHO. Jonesz

9th Jun 2013 18:47 @reply Jonesz

Jonesz wrote:

@Jonesz BTW it was Grangestone 12

9th Jun 2013 18:48 @reply Jonesz

jeffilli wrote:

When I first started getting interested in scotch whisky I went into my local total wine to get myself a bottle of "something". Being new to the world of scotch I immediately started looking at the Johnnie Walker selection. I knew nothing of blended or single malt, Highland or Islay. All I knew is that a buddy poured me some JW at a party and I was intrigued. I spoke with a salesman who suggested the Grangestone 12 year and explained that it was a single malt. I believe I payed $24 for it which was what sold me on it. I took it home and enjoyed it a lot. Again my pallet is not sophisticate and at the time I had sampled maybe 2 scotch whiskies. both blends. My point is it was a great introduction scotch for someone like myself. The legs on it were pretty good and it a had a lot of body. was rather "thick" on the tounge. Citrusy Vanila notes if I recall correct. a nice color (though Probably added). the texture was similar to grand marnier though... Anyway I have not bought a bottle of Grangestone since that bottle but it did get the ball rolling on my Scotch Experience and for that I thank them!

9th Jun 2013 19:35 @reply jeffilli

Maltmark wrote:

1 advantage of shopping at total wine is that you can return a bottle if you open it and don't like it. I've returned 3 so far. This is a huge advantage for me if I haven't sampled something. Also, their prices are really good. And in regards to grangestone, I thought for $23.99 the 12 year is a steal because it is better than fiddich or levit 12 year and way cheaper. The 18 and 21 are pretty much not so great at all. And the look of the bottle is not too shabby.

9th Jun 2013 19:38 @reply Maltmark

MarceloL wrote:

@Maltmark Yes. I walked into the TotalWine near me ( they've only been opened for 3 weeks), and the Asst. Manager Greg, took care of it immediately. Sure, I paid a little more, but the Highland Park 18 came home with me, and I just finished a 2nd dram ( Can you say: Happy Camper ). The return process was smooth, he thanked me for my feedback about it, and I suggested that they hold a tasting. Some folks may find Grangestone approachable, and that's perfectly fine. Also it allows them to get back to their suppliers and give them feedback about what their customers are saying. Frankly, I don't mind giving a new whisky a shot ( save blends, unless someone I know well is recommending it), but if someone who's supposed to have a sufficiently developed palatte recommends something for a person to spend good $$ on, they better consider the sort of whisky they were thinking of getting, before suggesting an alternative .

The Asst Manager was super understanding, took care of me, and I'll definitely go back to Total Wine ( they let me in on a little note: IF you take a picture of a price for a Whisky at Costco or Sams Club, they'll match the price). The Costco near me has some Lagavulin 16 for about $13 less than Total Wine, and I may take them up on it. Or, I might just pick up that Lagavulin at Costco just the same.

I would love to see the big box stores carry a wider diversity of Scotches....and less of the "Craft" Vodka ( WTF is that ?). They can start by bringing back Glen Morangie and Oban or Balvenie.

All in all, a birthday saved, as I was able to get the HP 18 in short order (Not that I'm complaining, but I though perhaps the Asst. Manager might've shaved a couple of extra $$ off the price of the HP for the inconvenience of having to come back and return the Grangestone they'd recommended. But I'm not gonna complain. I got what I wanted in the end.).

Carry on, Gentlemen. And let this be a lesson. Do NOT settle.

9th Jun 2013 23:27 @reply MarceloL

CanadianNinja wrote:

@MarceloL, if you ever get the chance I strongly recommend giving the Hibiki 12, 17 or especially 21 a try! All three are blends that are far better than many single malts in my opinion. I'd be interested in knowing what you think : )

10th Jun 2013 02:30 @reply CanadianNinja

Jonesz wrote:

@MarceloL Thanx for the heads up. Did not realize that you could return hard liquor "just because" That is a very good return policy. However I do not go for the take a picture scenario. I have an aversion to companies that will match a better price elsewhere. I would be buying the Lagavulin 16 where it is the best price when I walk in the door. If that was at Costco I would be buying from them. Just my 2 cents worth. Thanx for the informative reply. Jonesz

10th Jun 2013 17:18 @reply Jonesz

JJBriggs wrote:

Always interesting when I wander into my local Total Wine to see all the employee recommended bottles. They are all off brand or independently bottled by companies I have never heard of. Disapointing to see such transparent practices.

One such employee found me perusing the bourbon aisle. After a quick conversation she aggressively pitched a certain bourbon I have never seen before with a "recommended" tag on it. I asked her who distilled it. She paused and stared. I picked up the bottle and looked on the back. It said clearwater distiling, kentucky I think. The price was $69.99. I told her I would never pay that much for an unknown whiskey from an unknown distiller. It most likely was sourced from a major producer. She seemed offended at my standards. I went home without that bottle and slept just fine. Just dissapointing.

10th Jun 2013 20:26 @reply JJBriggs

AKGcandlefish wrote:

I didn't know about the return policy at Total Wine. I'll keep that in mind.

@jjbriggs, I also noticed that all of the employee favorites in the Scotch section were Total Wine exclusives. REALLY? Not a single employee favors a good Lagavulin or Aberlour to Grangestone or Battlehill? Riiight.

10th Jun 2013 20:45 @reply AKGcandlefish

JJBriggs wrote:

@AKGcandlefish That is what makes the practice so transparent. I'm all about finding a value pour, but cut the crap while we're at it!

10th Jun 2013 20:51 @reply JJBriggs

paddockjudge wrote:

@JJBriggs - I'm about to pay the Liquor Control Board of Ontario a rare and overdue complement - The employes at LCBO seldom "push" product - most of them haven't got a clue and don't care.

11th Jun 2013 00:15 @reply paddockjudge

Never heard of the stuff. I've heard of "Treadstone" though. Oh yeah. Seen the Bourne series {:>)

11th Jun 2013 03:10 @reply FormerlyRigmorole

MarceloL wrote:

@JJBriggs Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. If you're going to recommend something to me that I've never had before, especially at that high of a price point ($80), be prepared to present this seemingly "new" discovery for a bit of a taste. Not even a regular pour, just enough to give the palette an introduction, like a handshake).

11th Jun 2013 12:32 @reply MarceloL

Wodha wrote:

Here in Washington state TW&L has good pricing on known brands. My approach is to only buy legit brands we all know and love. I've tried their Battlescar, whatever it's called, and it was thin and unimpressive.

11th Jun 2013 14:09 @reply Wodha

Victor wrote:

Consider the source of the recommendation. What would you EXPECT from a recommendation from a chain store employee who is highly unlikely to be a whisky afficionado?

There are plenty of well-known whisky writers whose taste in whisky is so far different from my own that I would not take any recommendations from them. I subscribe to Whisky Advocate, and I love Whisky Advocate,...for the great photography and the great information contained in it...not for the ratings and not for the reviews.

Lots of people identify with the taste of John Hansell or Dave Broom...I do not...they are almost contrary indicators for me...not that I will dislike what they like,...but that what they think is "the best" is almost never something I would consider "the best".

Judge the whiskies for yourself. But don't expect that someone else's taste is going to be the same as your own.

My answer to the question, "Whose ratings do you trust?" is that I most trust the Vox Populi, the aggregate opinions of many, as reflected in the Connosr "Popular" Top 50 Highest Rated Whiskies. If it is in the Connosr Top 50 Rated, it is likely to be of excellent quality.

11th Jun 2013 15:14 @reply Victor

dag wrote:

Whenever I got to Total Wine, I run into the same girl (manager?) in the Scotch section pushing her favorite, Grangestone. Now I know why.

That being said, I have tried the Grangestone 12 and it's not bad. Not great or memorable, but for an under $30 single malt, it's a value. After running up and down the Single Malt food chain, I've been taking a more austere approach to things lately, buying some bourbons, ryes and irish whiskys and trying to stay away from the $50 and up Scotches. My go-to is still HP 12, but I do enjoy variety. It just gets a little pricey.

30th Jun 2013 21:53 @reply dag

JeffC wrote:

Well, consider yourself fortunate, in a highly regulated, state controlled jurisdiction, Total Wine only sells beer and wine.

30th Jun 2013 23:47 @reply JeffC

Nozinan wrote:

I wonder what distillery produced this unremarkable single malt?

Given what I'm haring about it, it sounds like a 3 rd or 4 th refill cask quality, from a distiller that probably has threatened litigation if their name gets out

1st Jul 2013 00:17 @reply Nozinan

likemywomen wrote:

After telling the guy at Totalwine how much I loved the Lagavulin 16 and how I was coming in to pick up a Macallans 12 or 15; I had a bottle of the Grangestone 18 year shoved down my throat. It was cheap ($60).

When I got home, popped open Jim Murray's 2013 edition and Grangestone was nowhere to be found. Did some googling, very little information on this whiskey. The one thing the guy at total-wine failed to mention is that Grangstone has been DISCONTINUED since 2006. Here is a link with info if anyone is interested: http://www.scotchwhisky.net/news/thearchive_2006.php.

From the reviews I've read on this thread, I think I'm returning this bad boy. Is it worth popping open and giving it a try or will I live the rest of my life in peace without trying this? Any experienced opinions?

1st Aug 2013 04:41 @reply likemywomen

Maltmark wrote:

@likemywomen. Yes. I've tried it and it's not too great. I rated it an 83, but probably too high. It's a little smoky, but very bland. Return it immediately. The 12 is actually better.

1st Aug 2013 13:12 @reply Maltmark

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