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Famous? For What ? For Goodness Sake ...!!!
Famous Grouse Whisky
Member Name: sidneygee
Famous Grouse Whisky
Date: 11/03/01, updated on 10/11/01 (556 review reads)
Advantages: err.. It is made in Scotland
Disadvantages: See personal opinion
I like almost all spirits, particularly Scotch Whisky, and rarely will I refuse a wee dram (or twa). However, I must report that 'The Famous Grouse' is one of the very few brands that I find is not 'quite' to my palate.
It is extremely popular in Scotland and it has managed to master the secret of good advertising. At one time it was those discrete small adverts at the top of the front pages of ‘quality’ daily newspapers, and then display adverts in magazines. Now we see a computer-animated Grouse generally behaving like a prat during the rugby football season, but all this does the main job of advertising – keeping the brand-name in the public eye. And it is sold at a premium price to pay for that expensive advertising.
Now why don’t I particularly like it ?
There are two main reasons :
a) I find its taste rather 'rough', and 'aggressive' and 'fiery' without having a particularly attractive or memorable flavour. I will admit to preferring a smoother blended Scotch, with an attractive flavour and indeed my favourite 'basic blend', shall we call it is 'The Cutty Sark', which is blended by the same company that blends 'The Famous Grouse'.
I drink Malt Whisky under different circumstances, and then I do like something with a bit of a 'bite' and a more complex flavour.
'Grouse' has a distinctive 'whisky' odour, again rather strong, and this may be why many Scots (their palates ruined by a life of copious Benson & Hedges, Tennants' Lager and 'Rubys') may prefer it.
b) The flavour has been inconsistent. It is always somewhat acrid, rough and aggressive, to my palate, but there can be substantial variations in its flavour, which implies poor organoleptic quality control at the blending stage.
As an indication of this lack of consistency, when I was a Public Analyst in Edi
nburgh up until 1996, there were a number of complaints alleging that 'Grouse' was being substituted by 'lesser brands' in optics in Pubs & Hotel bars, so that 'Grouse' bottles were being topped up by other blends. We had analytical techniques that 'finger=printed' spirits, depending on their trace volatile constituents, and the mineral traces. On occasions, yes, there had been substitution, but by no means always. It was the variation that caught out the complainants' palate. On one occasion, when the inspectors were certain that an offence had been commited, we were sent a whole unopened bottle from the hotel of 'Grouse' and the alleged 'lesser' blend, together with samples from the optics. In this case, I agreed with the complainant - the taste was 'very different', even more acrid and bitter, but so were the contents of the unopened bottle. Things may have improved since then ....
Now, one can argue that my views on the taste is just a matter of personal taste and opinion, in the same way that many readers of this opinion will not like my other major alcoholic passion, Guinness.
Certainly, if you believe that you "don't like Scotch", I reckon that you won't like 'The Famous Grouse'.
So I suggest that if do you try 'The Famous Grouse', then (particularly if you don’t like it), you should compare it with, say 'Bells', 'Cream of the Barley', 'Haig', 'Teachers', 'Grants' – any of the common blends. I cannot think that 'Grouse' will be near the top of your list of favourites. And why not treat yourself to a smoooth Malt, like Glenkinchie ?
Oh, and I have no objections to any of you drowning a blend with water or even .. er... lemonade or dry ginger (?)
But, please! Ignore the advertising !
In the same way that a Ford Escort was never the best small f
amily car, then I reckon that 'The Famous Grouse' is not among the best of blended whisky. The main point is to 'get sampling' yourself. There really are such wide variations in flavour and there should be one out there to suit you.
© Sidneygee 2001
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