1896. A year that would produce a brand that would be proud to say that it’s Scotland’s number one selling whisky for the last 30 years. The name? The Famous Grouse.
But how did this happen?
A Perthshire grocer and wine merchant named Matthew Gloag is the founder of The Famous Grouse after his father set up Matthew Gloag & Son in 1800. Matthew Gloag became a house-hold name after he was invited to supply the wine for a banquet for Queen Victoria on her first visit to Perth in 1842. Gloag purchased whiskies from distilleries around Scotland and in 1860, his son, William Gloag, took over the company and began producing blended whiskies. In 1896, William’s nephew, also named Matthew after his grandfather, took over the company.
Matthew creates a whisky called The Grouse Brand. Matthew’s daughter Phillippa draws the Red Grouse that adorned each bottle and became their trademark. He added the word “Famous” to the name in 1905. Sales boomed and two years later, re-located to a bigger purpose-built facility in Perth called Bordeaux House. After retiring in 1910, son Matthew ‘Willie’ Gloag took over the company reigns. 60 years pass until the acquisition by Highland Distillers (an Independent Scottish Company), where in 1984 it was granted a Royal Warrant.
The Famous Grouse can even add a BAFTA to its mantlepiece, winning for its The Famous Grouse Experience after it opened to the public at its Glenturret Distillery in Crieff in 2002.
The Famous Grouse have a portfolio of five as well as their new The Famous Grouse Ginger Grouse, and I’ve been lucky enough to try some. With this, below, I give to you my tasting notes –
The Famous Grouse – 40%
A marry of The Macallan and Highland Park with grain whiskies for a long period in fully seasoned oak casks. Toffee aromas dominate the nose with a malted barley scent at the end. Well-balanced on the palate with a slight sweetness. The barley comes through again with hints of spice that develops over the long finish.
The Black Grouse – 40%
A marriage of The Famous Grouse with Islay malt whiskies. Soft peat on the nose with hints of smoke drifting around. Smoother on the palate with the smoke becoming more noticeable over the peat. Creates an incredibly long finish.
The Snow Grouse – 40%
Produced using an extra process in Smoothchill Filtration. Designed to be drunk cold. Smooth on the nose with a fragrant aroma of vanilla coming through near the end. On the palate, a sharp, slightly harsh flavour of vanilla with an almost tequila like taste lingering around giving a warm after-taste.
The Naked Grouse – 40%
Matured The Famous Grouse within sun-dried sherry oak casks. Buttery vanilla on the nose with aromas of dry wood following. Lots of weight on the palate with toffee and caramel flavours mixing well to create a slight sweetness. Whisper of smoke to finish.
The Ginger Grouse – 4%
A ready-to-serve The Famous Grouse and ginger beer. Fresh ginger aromas on the nose with hints of citrus darting through. Light and refreshing on the palate with burst of ginger and sweet flavours. The Famous Grouse is light but still noticeable on the lingering finish.
A great range of blended whiskies, and one to include in a rather simple drink if required –
Grouse and Sparkling Apple
50 ml The Famous Grouse
1 Fresh apple
Place a generous amount of ice in the glass and pour The Famous Grouse. Add the Appletiser without drowning the whisky and drop in a thin sliver of apple.
Simple, but sometimes that’s all it need to be! A worthy addition to any drinks cabinet, and indeed on a visit to any The Famous Grouse bar. It’s not as bad as you’d expect for the stigma that blended whisky has. Honest!
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