It’s obvious from even a casual glance the red grouse and black grouse are two very different birds. Birds of a feather, they may be, but those feathers don’t look the same.. Thus it is with The Famous Grouse and The Black Grouse, two fine scotch whisky blends from the same producer, but two entirely different scotches withal.
Wait? Grouse, grouses, or…grice? Naw, it’s grouse in the plural too. Bless the Queen’s English. Louse: lice. Mouse: mice. Grouse: grouse. Grouses is allowable, however; but not mouses. Makes you want to grouse, doesn’t it?
The Edrington Group makes both of these scotches. And while The Famous Grouse is an honored blend—honored by being consistently the best-selling blended whisky in Scotland (where you’d think they know a little bit about uisge, eh?)—The Black Grouse is newly released in the United States.
The Black Grouse, heralded as ‘the darker side’ of The Famous Grouse, instantly went on the radar screen for scotch aficionados…even more so when it was announced it was coming in at a fetching price of $26.50 in Oregon. It seemed fitting to compare the original with its darker companion to see how they fared, so here’s the red and black of the story.
The Famous Grouse is a lovely blend, warm and silky and smooth with notes of honey and delicate malt. It’s a great introduction for people just getting to know scotch; and if you’re looking for a top-grade blend to sip of an evening, or to mix in a cocktail and retain sufficient scotch-ness, you won’t do better than the Grouse.
The Black Grouse is clearly a cousin of the Red with its innate smooth warmth—but it steps out from the English butter toffee of the Red and boldly proclaims some dark wood smoke—what the Scots rightly call “campfire”—and substantially more oak and spice. Knowledgeable tasters immediately thought of the peat reeky Islay Single Malts with their smoke and sea salt style.
The Black Grouse is indeed a scotch that goes to the darker side. And it does so handsomely. It is bound to appeal to those who like the smokier, bolder, more outspoken style of scotch.
The Famous Grouse is avaiable in Oregon for $20.95/760ml. The Black Grouse is $25.50/750ml. The Black Grouse is in limited release and will not be widely avaiable, so it is best to check the OLCC website and/or your local liquor store to verify stock.
Or, as one taster put it: “The Red Grouse for all around when you want scotch; the Black Grouse when it’s fireplace and wool inside and norwester weather outside!”