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Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Average score from 14 reviews and 74 ratings 72

Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

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@OdysseusUnbound
Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

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.

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.)

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.

@Victor

A recent gift of some open bottles from a professional caterer has given me just my second taste of standard Famous Grouse Blended Scotch. Now, I am willing to take every whisky at its own merits, and have no inherent prejudice against either blended Scotch or relatively inexpensive products. That said, I am long on record as having found blended Scotch as a category a posteriori less enjoyable than I have found barley-malt whiskies. I am looking forward to seeing what I find here. I have previously reviewed both Famous Grouse 12 yo Gold Blended Scotch, and The Black Grouse, from the same family of blended Scotch whiskies. Edrington notes on the bottle that malts from The Macallan and Highland Park are included as parts of the blend. The reviewed bottle is understood to have been recently opened, probably last week, and is 60% full

Nose: the main effect here is rather muffled, and, after a lot of observation I think that what I am smelling here is flavour dominance by the dilute wheat whisky used in Scottish blends. This is non-descript and leans toward varnish, but it is not strongly offensive. It doesn't offer much to like either. There may be wine here, but if so it also is non-descript to the point of obscurity. I can't really smell malt, and whatever wood flavours I am getting are probably that not-so-wonderful varnish effect. Water added improves the wood flavours and the overall flavours Score: 16/25; 18/25 with water added

Taste: well, there is something to taste in the mouth, including wine, malt, some wood influence (a little better than the nose, but not much), and citrus. This is better than is the nose, but that isn't saying much. Adding water doesn't help much. Score: 18/25

Finish: wine stays long with the citrus and both go very sour. Water added just gives a more dilute "very sour". 16/25

Balance: not good in any phase. Score: 17/25

Total Sequential Score: 69 points

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Strength: good strength of flavours. Score: 21.5/25 points

Quality: none of these component flavours is very good. Fair to poor, really, is what we have here. Score: 15/25

Variety: poor variety on the nose; good variety in the mouth. Score: 17/25

Harmony: this bottle really just does not work, at all. Score: 16/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 69.5 points

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Comment: I get no pleasure in bashing blended Scotch, inexpensive whisky, or bottles which I own. I would really like to love everything I have in my house to drink. This bottle of standard The Famous Grouse just does not get there for me for quality and enjoyment

At my Golf Club hole in one achievers (not me, yet!) are encouraged to place a bottle of spirits on the bar - this (FG) is often made freely available and I'm not one to turn down any free whisky . . . 'Well done, Sir/Madam!' ;)

That said, it's average at best and not one of the 'budget blends' I'd buy. Too saccharin sweet and bitter on the finish, with a lot of grain present.

Grant's would be my cheap blend of choice, fwiw.

@RianC Agreed, Grant's is good value.

@Uisgebetha

A marriage of fine scotch whisky by appointment to the Queen. A royal recommendation can’t be bad can it? The label also says Macallan and Highland Park have been used in the blend for “the smoothest possible taste”.

What of the blend in question, the nose has some sherry richness and a touch of malt and some brown sugar type sweetness completes a good start. The delivery on the palate is very smooth, whether its the smoothest possible (well I know I’ve had smoother whisky’s), I’d say no. The sherry is also evident in the flavours and there are some soft spices helping the show along. The finish is quite sweet and a touch bland after the initial intensity of the palate.

Overall I’d say this was a well crafted blend, but I’d recommend Black Grouse above this.

@Rantavahti

Famous Grouse is one of Scotland's most favourite blended Scotch whisky. It has whisky from Glenrothes, Macallan and Highland Park.

It has some extra factor in it, that makes it better than most of the blended ones. Only in the finish you can clearly see the usual bad parts of blended grain stuff.

Otherwise a decent dram and an okay "household whisky". A nice little Mrs. Doubtfire to keep in your kitchen cabinet.

Nose: Light but crispy with floral feel and hints of sweet toffee.

Taste: Barley and spices clash with caramel.

Finish: Caramel with spices in a watery but sharp, quick finish.

Balance: Okay palate with the usual sloppy blended finish.

@GotOak91

I was looking for a basic blend that I haven't tried that I could also use for mixed drinks. Famous Grouse is a blend of mostly grain whisky (65%) and an arrangement of The Macallan, Glenrothes, and Highland Park malts.

Nose: Light with cut flowers, red apples, assorted grains/malts, a slight tinge of red berries and a little smoke. Not to bad for $20 USD.

Body: Fast moving legs slide down the side of the glass. Light on the tongue.

Taste: Malty and sweet. Notes of pepper/spice. Toffee and caramel make up a majority. Nothing spectacular.

Finish: Relatively short with pepper and lingering notes of ashy smoke.

Overall: One dimensional (mostly) but that's ok I didn't buy it for straight sipping anyway, except for this review of course. Recommended for cocktails that don't drown this. Which seems to be easy to do. All in all not too bad I've had worse. Score is based on this being a blended whisky.

Nice review. This is my dad's favorite scotch. He's always been a blended scotch drinker. I've been getting him Into single malts lately, Talisker 10 being his favorite so far. I've shared many grouse on the rocks with him. Just a good solid blend. Thanks for the review.

Thank you too. It does stand on its own relatively well (as a blend).

@MisterDigger

Being that this is the most popular blend in Scotland and very affordable and easily available, I thought that I would give this a try as something to keep around to avoid wasting money on the good stuff when my tongue and judgment gets clouuded.

Well, many years ago when I was writing music reviews, many of my loyal fans would often ask for my trademark "fist in the gut" reviews of those works that go out of their way to deserve this "honor". This Famous Grouse has earned this distinction for tasting like household cleaner mixed with corn syrup. And the Scotch thumb their nose at Dewar's (which is not much better)? The only reason that I gave it an extra 20 points was that my neighbor enjoyed mixing it with lots of Coca Cola. I gladly let her do this rather than throw it away, and I was shocked that she liked it.

Maybe I should go back to Ballantine's to serve my purpose as a cheap backup, as this is what I drank 40 years ago when I was dirt poor. I heard that they also make a great 17 year old, if one can find it.

It shows how much you know that you call the Scotch 'Scotch'. Scotch is whisky - the people are Scots, and if you call them Scotch they are likely to hit you hard over the head with a bottle of it! And since this is their favourite blended whisky - and the SCOTS know what they are talking about in this regard - I think I'll go with their judgement!

I just bought a bottle of basic , simple inexpensive whisky that is perfectly ok. I recommend the Bushmills Tripple Distilled

@Tomba

nose: a lot of young whisky involved here, so a stronger alcohol note is perceptible. compared to single malts this blend appears obviously quite diluted to the nose. nevertheless, sweet tones, honey, butterscotch, classic hints of american oak. there is a very little salty and a very low heather and smoke tone reminding highland park when you give the spirit some time to open up a bit. gives it an umami touch. malty nose, very low vanilla notes. poor aromas here and very washed-out, not a lot intense stuff to pick out here in general.

taste: quite washy and aqueous (no oily texture), malty and grainy to the tongue. rhubarb and maybe some banana. sometimes a peppery touch (not from the alcohol).

finish: quite dry, classic bitter-sweet and the bitterness persists for some time.

summary: honestly you can't ask for more for this price. very easy drinking here, for the price and the watery feeling it goes down very quickly. I quite enjoy it for a regular dram with low expectations. quite pleasant and totally drinkable straight without any water or ice. if you don't have much money and no need to impress yourself or some people joining you for dinner it's a very good emergency solution. I think the reason for an affordable and enjoyable blend is to pay way below then some single malts out there. and this bottle totally delivers what you pay for in my opinion. don't ask for much and certainly not for the gourmet type of drinker. for the low budget portemonnaie that still wants to achieve an acceptable whisky experience!

I always have a blend on my shelf for non so special occasions and for a quick sip now and then. So I bought a second bottle of Famous Grouse and I'm really disappointed. Quite different than the first bottle, rather bitter than subtle sweet in the finish and very watery in the mouth. I presume that such variations occur, especially with high produced blends like this. I sometimes use this blend for cooking, especially with meat. Won't buy another bottle for sure.

@Eddieb101

This was the first Whisky i ever tried and to be frank it didn't agree with me the first time although since i have matured and got over the initial alcohol kick. I found that adding a small drop of cool water makes this much easier to drink but also brings out the flavors beyond what you think would be possible.

NOSE: Sweet caramel, Flowers and fruits, hint of chocolate. All the time you nose this you can smell the spice in the background! Nose is the same even after you add water

PALATE: Firstly there is Toffee, Caramel and Spice but this is all masked by an overpowered sweetness which lasts until you swallow. Adding water allows the Spice and Toffee to shine through the initial sweetness and alcohol.

FINISH: Medium warmth going down which is prolonged when you add water to the mix. Drinking neat makes the finish! I also have to note the taste of sick which was the last thing i could taste after this went down (i kid you not although it was faint!)

Verdict: Not bad but certainly not the best I've tried so far. The Finish is by far the worse part for me, with the initial taste on the palate being the party piece of this Whisky! The taste of sick at the end is a recurring thing for me with this Whisky and once I've finished the bottle i will not be buying another!

@Mountrain

The nose smells of oak and the smell of polished wood. A sweet underbelly of vanilla exists faintly.

I was stuck in a cheap bar for this one, reduced to trying a blend. I thought I would give it a go and not be a malt snob.

The taste was very much of wood vanish with an ever so slight hint of a better sweet malt trying to fight it's way through. I found it depressing compared to those blockbuster Single Scottish Malts I'm used too. Apart from that wood not much else the medium body of the whisky was it's best feature. It doesn't burn either, best had drowned in Ginger Ale me thinks.

I would call this the cheap Mcdonalds cheese burger of scotch whisky Nothing great about it but then again it's not terrible. But why settle for this when there is so much more exciting whiskies to be had. I'd expect something a little bit better from such a large brand.

@talexander Coming back to the Black Grouse, it seem to have improved. More peat and smoke have develloped, more sweetness and less bitterness. It as open up nicely. This is why I try not to judge a bottle too quickly. I share your thoughts on this one. Cheers.

I have a bottle of The Black Grouse open and I must say I was expecting for more. Like you said there is so many nice malts to be had, but again I see it more like an education. Also, sometime when i'm tired and don't have the time or energy to enjoy my dram, I rather have a not so demanding blend.

@Eye_lah_Guy

Gold appearance; subtle, floral nose, hints of vanilla spice; medium light body with light, crisp grains giving way to oak; very tight balance. A warm and clean finish, with a spicy afterglow.

This is a solid, very pleasant dram with some character of it's own. Interestingly, my recent tasting of "Johnnie Walker Double Black" suggested that the striding man was influenced by this fine foul. At $15-$20 less, bring on the bird...

@JDwhiskey

Famous Grouse claims to be Scotland's number one selling blended whisky, selling over 40 million bottles each year.

Nose: The nose is very smooth and delicate with flowers and fruit, apples in particular. It is a surprisingly rich nose for such a light whisky. Spices make an appearance after the flowers and fruit.

Palate: More apple comes through right from the offset, with a very slight hint of lemon. Toffee and more spices appear towards the finish.

Finish: The finish is medium long consisting mainly of toffee with a slight taste of smoke.

@markjedi1

This is one of Scotland's best selling blends with almost 40 million bottles per annum. Few single malts can show such numbers. Actually, none can. It hails from the Glenturret distillery (that's not really true, it's not created there, it's merely the home of the Famous Grouse Experience).

The nose is delicate with flowers and grain, nicely balanced with the malt and fruity aromas. Despite the light body, this is quite a rich nose. Toffee with a touch of spices and a very enjoyable whiff of smoke.

While soft on the palate, it shows quite some spices and is quite easy to drink.

The finish is medium in length on the same.

It's understandable that this blend does so well. The price/quality equation of this supermarket whisky is hard to beat.

I've tried the grouse only once and I was fairly unimpressed. It simply seemed to me as a non-peaty red label. I remember that the nose was maybe the worst part to me, as it didn't offer much more than young grains. However, for precision's sake, I have to say I've drunk it in a bar and I'm aware that the tasting conditions were not the best. May as well be that my impressions have been heavily biased.

@drinix, when I first tried it, I didn't like it much either. But that was in similar circumstances: in a bar prior to a dinner party. But when I tried it again a year later, in my private tasting room, I was somewhat surprised to actually enjoy it. Maybe you should try it again? Having said that, it's still not an impressive whisky, obviously. But not as bad as many people think and a lot better than Johnnie Walker Red Label in my opinion.

m
@phillyslick

the intense flavour of famous grouse makes this blended scotch one of my favourites

Have you tasted the Famous Grouse 12yr? I reviewed it here. Its worth a taste if you haven't!

thanks for the tip! i was actually thinking of tasting the black grouse next.

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