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Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Almost Famous

3 2474

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

28th Sep 2017

0

  • Nose
    18
  • Taste
    20
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    18
  • Overall
    74

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This is an abbreviated version of my most recent blog post

Bottom shelf blends don't generally garner much attention in the blogosphere. We're passionate about our favourite single malts, peat levels, cask selection and so on. We may be doing the casual drinker a disservice though, since blended scotch whisky accounts for approximately 85 to 90 percent of all scotch whisky sales worldwide.

However, I'm nothing if not selfless, so I've decided to swallow my pride (and a lot of whisky) in order to help my ten or so readers make more informed choices, regardless of how much they're spending.

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): barley, red grapes, honey, light brown sugar
  • Palate (undiluted): medium-light body, malt, tea-biscuit-ish, honey, faint red grape notes
  • Finish: medium length, honey, a very faint hints of smoke and milk chocolate

Adding water did not change much about this whisky. The sweetness is cut a bit, and the milk chocolate notes become a bit more apparent, but this isn't any kind of flavour bomb. I wouldn't recommend adding water to this whisky. The Famous Grouse is light enough to mix in a highball, or a Rob Roy, but it doesn't make you sit up and pay attention the way some of the better blends, like Compass Box, do.

The Famous Grouse won't change your life, but it is a solid introduction to scotch whisky. The single malt component is present, but it certainly doesn't dominate the blend. There is nothing unpleasant in the Grouse, but it didn't blow me away either. Much like Grant's, it did improve a bit after being opened for a month or so.

Related Famous Grouse reviews

24 comments

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

You had me at the title...I preferred the Blaxploitation version of Grouse, now called smoky black, which just sounds like a delta blues guitarist.

You are right bottom shelf blends tend to get little love, I killed the heck out of some Islay Mist, Té Bheag (you surely can guess what we used to call it) and JW Black Label (there they go again!) what they lack in excitement I think they provide in reliability, you know what you are getting time after time and usually at a reasonable price. Good in drinks, on a hot day with ice, at a BBQ or something casual.

A nice reminder teach!

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

I'd kill for a few bottles of the Teachers Highland Cream of 20 years ago.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound, it is always good to shed light upon drinks that are being drunk in large quantities by the public. And yes, malt snobs may not like blended Scotch much, but other people do. Thanks for your review.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

I hate Soul Asylum. smirk

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Victor I've had some good blends (Cutty Sark Prohibition comes to mind). I smelled some Dimple that leaked on my hand in a patient's home once. I really liked JW Green.

I'll try anything and enjoy it as long as it's good.

But this one just doesn't sound like one of them.

And think of all the unworthy single malts...

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

The quick hits from @Nozinan prompted me to reflect on whether I've ever had a blend I really liked.

Nope.


(I'm considering only true blends here, not blended malts. I guess the best I ever had was JW Black. The rest have all ranged from "garbage" to "boring." From what I can tell, it'll take something like TINALW to change my tune.)

about one year ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt TINALW ??? What's that? Have you had any Compass Box blends? They seem to be favourably reviewed...

about one year ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nozinan It's ok for what it is. It's a bottle I leave at my mother-in-law's place. It gives me something to drink when I'm there. And I won't get too worked up or bothered if someone breaks the bottle or drinks it while I'm not there.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound I guess it's not like dropping an unopened bottle of Benromach 10 on a friend's driveway. .

.

.

.

scream

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@MadSingleMalt The quick hits come from being away from my computer all day and binge reading all the comments...

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@OdysseusUnbound , TINALW is "This Is Not a Luxury Whisky," that high-end blend put out a year or so ago by ... wait for it ... Compass Box. :)

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

I want a date with this Tina L.W. if you've got her number laughing

For many blends the proportion of malt is too low or the grain components are not old enough to contribute enough personality. The ABV on many is too low as well, Cutty Sark Prohibition was a good example at 50% those first batches we're really punchy and bold which could smooth over the imperfections or limitations..subsequent batches I tried we're a little too sweet and sharp, my palate probably changed too.

but as @Nozinan said there's also many unworthy single malts...lack of defining character that's the one that gets me.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Yeah, I've had some Compass Box stuff. None of the high-end stuff, though, except for Flaming Heart. Some quick hits from memory:

Flaming Heart is excellent, but's not a true blend.

Peat Monster is decent, but it's not a true blend.

The Lost Blend is decent, but it's not a true blend.

Great King Street is OK—I forget which version I tried at a tasting once—but I think JW Black is better.

•I think I also tried either Asyla or Hedonism once and either way, meh.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Nozinan your retelling of that Ben Ten incident, has me double checking my grip on boxes now

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@cricklewood , I suspect that the hidden culprit in many blends' blandness is the huge volume of water.

I've raised this question in a few different places and never gotten a good answer, but shouldn't we expect that the grain whisky is being distilled to a very high ABV, and therefore taking a huge amount of water when diluted down to 40% for bottling?

As I say, I've yet to find any source to back up or disprove that notion, but it seems legit to me and it would explain why many blends suck.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Most recently, I tried two blends from our friends in Campbeltown, thinking they'd have more character: Campbeltown Loch and Mitchell's.

Nope.

They're bad too. Inoffensive, sure, but bland and boring.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@cricklewood , yeah, that Tina L.W. is one classy dame. But watch your toes: I hear she dates The General.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

"High volume of water" makes the blended Scotch inexpensive to buy and even more inexpensive to produce.

It is easy to understand why Scotch whisky industry people would not be talking much about watered down whisky. The only place I ever got information on this was from the lips of John Glaser, who declared in front of a group of industry people that all Scottish grain whisky is distilled above 90% ABV before being watered down to the usual 40% abv. 95% ABV is the standard for industrial grain alcohol.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@MadSingleMalt Very high end, very expensive.

Great King Street Artists Blend is a good one.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Victor , good dirt there on grain whisky. Thanks.

So a typical blend will contain more water than it does grain, just to get that portion of the blend down to 40% ABV! Yes, I'm sure this is a main reason that most blends suck.

One of these days, I'm gonna create a spreadsheet or something with some formulas to show how much water is in a whisky based on its cask-matured components.

about one year ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

I've had the Prohibition, and I thought it sucked too. I dumped it into a mini-home-aging-barrel which I've long since forgotten about up in my attic.

Granted, it didn't suck in the "bland and boring" way. It just tasted bad. Strong and bad.

about one year ago 0

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