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The Black Grouse

Average score from 11 reviews and 60 ratings 78

The Black Grouse

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The Black Grouse

Nose: Sweet, light peat, fresh fruits, and what is this... sherry? Pretty good.

Palate: Sweet and creamy, but then grainy, harsh around the sides slightly and a hint of smoke and ashy peat. That's about it. Simple and "ok"? There must be more to this...

Finish: Fairly short, Some lingering char and spice. Hmm...

Conclusion - A simple yet decent blend... or is it? After the initial glass, I poured a second, this time with a splash of water (as always). We get something very different with this approach.

The overall quality explodes into something much more pleasant to my taste. Much smoother, almost perfect for a blend. No more burn on the nose/palate from the grainy notes (they are eliminated). We get a lovely mix of sweetness, fresh fruits, subtle peat, a good dose of sherry, some peppery spice and a finish with char, gentle smoke and pepper. It lingers, for a while. Even though this whisky is bottled at 40%, water balances it out so well it gets into a much longer finish that stays for quite some time, and most importantly, very enjoyable.

Sounds like a solid budget buy!


The Famous Grouse is a well known and generally well-crafted blend. They have a good number of decent and affordable whiskies to their name. The Black Grouse is one of the better known and more widely available offerings. Personally, I consider this to be one of the brand’s best releases. It’s an unpretentious, affordable, and likeable blend if ever there was one.

Nose: Apples, oranges, toffee, dark caramel, strawberry licorice, and a hint of smoke.

Palate: Very smooth arrival. Peat, smoke, caramel, vanilla, and tobacco. The flavours are strong enough, but they don’t overwhelm the gentle quality of the whisky.

Finish: Caramel, soft pepper, big vanilla, roasted almonds, and peat, finishing on orange chocolate. Medium in length. Very smooth and soft.

This is pleasant. The overall character is sweet and smooth but there’s a good dose of peat here as well. I tend to toss this in with soda, but it can be enjoyed neat as well. Complex? No. Powerful? Not really. But it’s reasonably priced, straight-forward, and easy to like. A solid blend.

Black Label is unquestionably better. Again, this one is more of a mixer. Sipped neat there's not much to it. But where I live it's $10 cheaper than Black Label. For what it is, I like it, but don't expect too much!

After reading your review, now I'm tempted. I never buy blends, but this one always grabs my attention. How would you compare it to Black Label.


This is the second Whisky i currently have in my collection (small i know).

Firstly this has the standard Famous Grouse blend in it but with some other peat based malt added in. This creates in my opinion a more punchy Whisky.

NOSE: I was expecting something hard to hit me on the nose but what i was greeted with was a mild smokey almost burnt sugar smell, it was pleasant and added to the existing smell of toffee. When i searched harder i could smell a faint tobacco scent, effective yet not in your face!

PALATE: Very similar in my view to the standard Famous Grouse but with a smoky taste which at no point overpowers the Whisky. Vanilla and spice (pepper) can be found especially if you hold it in your mouth.. There are fruits but i found the smoke taste masked the fruits until i added water which really opened it up. Oranges and a hint of chocolate come through once the water has had time to take effect!

FINISH: Warm going down with slight burn on the back of your tongue and throat. Flavors for the most part hang around in your mouth especially the orange and chocolate with the smoke consistently lurking in the background!

Verdict: This brings an added dimension to the standard grouse with the addition of smoke which compliments the existing flavors. The nose is certainly more interesting and the finish is vastly improved! The smoke from the peat based malt is never overpowering. Worth the extra money over the standard grouse in my opinion especially if you like a "little" smoke and punch! My only concern is the smoke does unbalance the Whisky to some extent but a few tiny drops of water help it to settle down!


Quite oily whisky, with citrus emerging behind the peat. On the mouth the peat dissapears behind citrus & spice, but re-emegres to take control on a good long finish. Interesting


Nose: Infusing without being intrusive. Quite polite and small. Shy peat notes.

Mouth: Lots going on! A very interesting surprise. Much more insistent than the nose but still not aggressive - it's all there and coats the mouth accordingly but without rushing you. Peat first but it sweetens up nicely through the smokey overtures with perhaps a very faint dried fruit note. I don't get the full fruit flavours others seem to get, but this may be for the better. It's balanced, nothing overwhelms.

After: The mouth strides into the finish beautifully but i get a burnt dark chocolate note at the back that I didn't find particularly pleasant behind some nice spice and smoke. A snatch of the sea.

A really nice surprise - Grouse isn't something I expected to see the inside of my drinks cabinet again!


Nose: moderate peat, sweet malt, licorice, roses, and a little brine

Taste: lots of peat on the palate, very sweet, moderate brine and tart lemon. This dries the tongue. These are strong and deep flavours

Finish: all of the flavours stay long with the very ending being on lemon citrus and peat

Balance: "Black" in the name is the hint that this is about peat. There is massive sweetness in good balance to the heavy peat and tart lemon citrus. If a flavourful peaty blend is what you are after, then this is a good one. Otherwise, better go elsewhere

It's exciting that you rate it because it's groaning off every supermarket shelf in Scotland...i've always passed up on it because I'm not a fan of Grouse, but i'd say I shall give this one a look in coming weeks. Cheers.

@McGrain, thanks for your comments. I do much prefer The Black Grouse to the standard Famous Grouse myself. I hope that you like it ok. It is definitely for a peaty sort of mood. Cheers.


It's Canada Day weekend, so of course I should be reviewing some fine Canadian whisky. However, I have already reviewed my Canadian single malts, and have only Alberta Premium on hand. Since I cannot yet wrap my head around rye and, therefore, would not be able to produce a valid review, I have decided instead to review The Black Grouse (which, I am told, by Abraham Lincoln himself, is a fine indigenous Canadian bird).

The Black Grouse, as advertised, combines the characteristic sweetness and smoothness of the Famous Grouse with Islay malts for the pleasing addition of smokey, peaty complexity. Lets see then:

Nose: delicate, smooth, subtle smoke and sweet peat intermingle with honey and toffee. There is a slight citric note as well.

Palate: creamy and smooth. It goes from sweet to peat - honey intermingled with delicate peat and a soft smokey texture.

Finish: the sweet-peat palate gives way immediately to a mellow cinnamon spice, itself fading into drying peat.

Ubiquitous, and relatively inexpensive, I was expecting a competent blend. However, I was surprised by its overall quality and flavour profile. It is quite a pleasant sipping whisky with enough complexity to keep one amused...and it's better than Alberta Premium....


My first foray into the world of Famous Grouse blends. Quite nice - solid bodied, the colour of golden honey. Oaky nose with malt, toffee and a little apple. These are also on the palate with some peat smoke, vanilla and pepper. A little water brings out the peat - medium warm finish. Not outstanding but very nice.

In the peaty blended world, I think it beats the crap out of Black Bottle and Teachers. a Nice one to warm up the peat buds :)

I wrote this almost 2 years ago...I think if I had written it now I would give it a higher score!


This is my third bottle of black grouse. I sometimes crave a smoke filled whisky and when I can't afford a malt these peated blends do the job quite well. It's obviously going after a slice of the JW black pie and it goes about it magnificently. It's very close to the JW, perhaps with a little less finesse and smoothness in the blend. Not necessarily a bad thing though, the slightly rougher nature gives it more punch and attitude. The bottle's label looks shit though. Just needs a classy bottle to make it a classic.

Nose - The Famous Grouse base is there in toffee sauce and barley. Sweet but old like an old empty tobacco tin, leather backed up by some peat but its in the background. Palate - Famous Grouse base dominates at first but then you get chocolate and cream mixed with orange that turns to smoke. slightly fizzy. Finish - Big peat finish but not overpowering. well married with malt. Ends strong with stale ale (still good) wood and leather, slightly bitter.

Really great stuff, it tastes old but the famous grouse toffee gives its age away. Love it.

Forgot to add, they added too much caramel to the colour I think to tie it in to the 'black' vibe. Not necessary.


After the sale of Black Bottle (and Bunnahabhain distillery) to Burn Stewart in 2003, Edrington Group was looking for a replacement. After the success of the Famous Grouse, it was just a small step to the Black Grouse, a blend of 'regular' Famous Grouse and some peated malt.

The nose is less peaty than anticipated. The rich fruity character, with quite a bit of candied sugar, is sprinkled with beach bonfire. Nice balance, though.

This was has a lot more body than the regular Grouse. It offers a nice round and full mouthfeel with spices, dark chocolate and toffee taking center stage. Some citrus. The peat plays second fiddle. It's meant to play a supporting role and does so magnificently.

The finish is medium in length, starts off creamy and dies on citrus and smoke.

A very elegant blend that, while not earthshattering to peatfreakds, will enthrall the Black Bottle enthusiasts. A very pleasant surprise.


Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance are graded out of 2.5 each:

Nose: As the bottle label does it's best to explain, this is meant to be a marriage of peated malt with the Famous Grouse blend, so naturally I was expecting a strong statement of smoke and peat. Not so. The smoke and peat is definitely there, however it is more than accommodating to the brown sugar accompanying it. A compelling balance. 2.0

Taste: Incredibly smooth and light, once again not forcing the issue with the peat and the smoke. The brown sugar on the nose has become dark chocolate on the tongue, and it mingles beautifully with the spice. Makes me think of a bar of dark chocolate with chilli that someone once gave me. I wasn't a fan of it at the time, but on tasting this I may have to try that chocolate again. Intriguing stuff. 2.0

Finish: A very gradual fade down of the cocoa, and a fade up of the spice and oak. So subtle and unexpectedly elegant. 2.0

Balance: I must confess, I do often judge a book by it's cover, and I've never been a fan of the labelling on The Famous Grouse, and if anything it looks even worse in this black edition. Never though have I tasted anything that so belies its cheap appearance (and pricing for that matter). It's like fine poetry wrapped in an airport-read paperback cover. However it may appear on the outside, there's truly great stuff inside that bottle. 2.0.

Got a bottle tonight. I was looking for the Johnnie Walker Green, but the liquor store didn't have it. I had read many good reviews on the Black Grouse,so decided to try it. When I opened the bottle, I detected quite a bit of peat/smoke,but not a lot when I first tasted it. I was very impressed by how smooth it is! I actually found it quite tame, as far as taste, but a very easy and pleasant whisky to drink. Funnily enough, it reminded my very much of Bushmill's Black Bush, I think mainly because of the smoothness. Not a rough edge to be found. This is often a good thing in my books. Tonight, though, I am more in the mood for smoke and peat, so I am advancing to my Lagavulin 1994 Distillers Edition, then Laphroaig 10 year, and I will finally open a Laphroaig Quarter Cask. I was hoping to find the Black Grouse smokier and peatier. However, what I found was different to what I expected, and definitely not a disappointment. Still cannot get over the smoothness! Even smoother to my taste than the Lagavulin Distillers Edition I am presently drinking! This definitely has a luxury feel to it. Cheers, Carl

I never looked at this review before but always thought I had to try out this bottle .. I have this habit of knowing tasting everything that goes through this place .. just cause the shop has it here in Iceland. I go through bottles fast, I know it .. anyways .. This one had been sitting on the shelves for over a year and I said to myself, its now or never before its a goner frea the shelves. At this point of time .. I only have The Black Grouse and Dimple to taste of teh blends. Got both and this bottle of TFG is a total surprise. I have always been a fan of Black bottle and go through 1 bottle a month on average. This Blend .. This bottle of The Black Grouse is just wonderful. Hands down, this is leap miles ahead of JWB label. Congratulations blenders at the Grouse. This is truly a surprise, wich I regret not having had before .. (Because The Famouse Grouse Original i dont drink).

P.S. This bottle is going to be in my cabinet at all times.

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