Taste Review #33 – Naked Grouse
The review that I said I’d never do. I never thought I’d review Famous Grouse. And technically I’m not – this is Naked Grouse, a blended whisky with no age statement. While I always try to bring you information about quality, I’ve never associated Famous Grouse with quality. That’s not to say I feel that it’s a bad dram although I mostly use it for hot toddies. Plus, it beats Bells hands down and it remains a very popular drink.
However, a discussion on what whiskies I liked whilst at the Ballindalloch Distillery with Davie, one of the operators with a long history at Macallan, resulted in him telling me that given the whiskies I liked, if I didn’t like Naked Grouse, he’d give me cost of my bottle back.
The main difference between Famous Grouse and Naked Grouse is that this spirit has been finished in first fill sherry casks, to impart that wee bit of sweet influence. And of course it adds to the colour, which is the reason there is not a label on the front of the bottle, but an embossed Grouse.
The Naked Grouse I am sampling today is an older version of the blend, which contains grain spirit, but in 2017 it was re-branded by owners Edrington to be a blended malt whisky, mostly centred around the Glenturret, Macallan and Highland Park malts.
No Age Stated
Smooth, a wee bit oily, cherry, creme brûlée, toasted multigrain bread.
Like the nose, this was quite smooth, sherry notes, vanilla, toffee, dried fruit – sultanas or raisins.
I got a medium drying finish, with a light burst of smoke at the end. Light oak and spice too.
Not really what I expected. Yes, there is a faint recall back to the original Famous Grouse; for me, it was a recognisable taste, and had this been a blind taste test, I would have picked Famous Grouse, but wondered why it was different.
This is a lot sweeter than the original Famous Grouse blend to my palate, and I would say this Is more tasty than the original. While maybe not a premium whisky, this is definitely a step up and certainly a blend for the malt drinkers. Since my bottle is pre 2017, I have the older recipe which included a bit of grain spirit, but since 2017, this has changed to be a blended malt. If it is anything like my bottle, then it will be great.
I’ve included a picture of the modern bottle, so you can get a proper idea of the colour. I do suspect that there has been colouring added, but perhaps not. The whole reason of why the bottle has no label at the front is so you can see the colour. I don’t know if I could be so proud of a whisky with E150a in it.
Question is, would I recommend? Whilst I likely won’t buy another bottle, I’m not going to avoid it should I see it in a bar with poor malt selection. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this dram and I have to say I liked my pour. For the price of a retail bottle (£27 in Asda) it’s good value, but I am simply not interested to drink blend on a regular basis.
I paid £21.28 for my bottle at auction, including all the fees. Don’t worry Davie, your wallet is safe!
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