We swirled and observed, nosed and sipped one evening on March 10th, 2015 trying to divulge the parts and volumes that make up The Famous Grouse whisky. Our hands-on introduction into the fine art of whisky blending was hosted by The Famous Grouse.
Best of all, we’re giving away a bottle of Black Grouse to one of our readers: it’s a mischievous and peaty blend just in time for April Fool’s Day. Details down below!
THE BLENDING EXPERIENCE
The private room at Spirit House was the the setting for the special occasion with old school character complete with cushy comfortable leather chairs, wooden tables and a large bar.
With guidance from Nicolas Villalon, the brand ambassador to The Famous Grouse who is well versed with spirits and beverages with 10 years in the industry, we were first familiarized with the offerings from The Famous Grouse by way of cocktail reception and then a formal tasting of their blends.
What differentiated this particular event from many others is the interactive factor in a unique hands-on experience. Reminiscent of school days in the science lab; of beakers and flasks, test tubes, graduated cylinders, it brought back memories of science experiments that produced something amazing at the end. The challenge was to replicate the blending of the complex profile of the Famous Grouse, which happens to be a closely guarded secret. Only brand ambassador Nicolas knew how far we were from the actual recipe. Through trial and error, drinking our failed attempts (which we really didn’t mind!), we made our attempt at becoming a master blender.
Alas, we didn’t win the challenge and get the prize but we had a great time. No matter how we mixed it, we really couldn’t go wrong with fine ingredients from The Famous Grouse. As a consolation, we got to take home our concoction in a take away bottle.
Trying to replicate the nose, palate and finish of the Famous Grouse is no easy feat. We only had to blend a flask full, now imagine the precision and effort that is needed to mix millions of litres per year! The highly skilled and complex task of marrying single malt and single grain whiskies to make a blended whisky is the responsibility of The Famous Grouse’ master blender who has spend long years mastering and perfecting his craft. The company insists on a long maturation and marrying process of up to eight months for enhanced clarity, brightness and smooth taste. A Famous Grouse blend is a careful combination of anything from 15 to 50 single whiskies of varying ages, compiled to a highly secret formula. We can reveal that the whisky maker does use ex-sherry casks. Although more expensive than bourbon casks, it gives the whisky a smoother and more rounded taste.
The Famous Grouse currently has 6 blends in their product line:
- The Famous Grouse – medium full flavour, mature, Speyside fruitiness
- The Black Grouse – full flavour, spice and dried fruits, smoke through the oak
- The Black Grouse Alpha Edition – sweet vanilla, dry smokiness
- The Naked Grouse – resinous, dried fruits and nutmeg, spicy cinnamon
- The Famous Grouse 16 Year Old – spicy nutmeg, cinnamon bark, smooth and silky vanilla
- The Famous Grouse 40 Year Old – sweet fruity citrus and banana, gingerbread, light peat smoke
As one of Scotland’s best loved whiskies, The Famous Grouse has a long tradition. From humble beginnings, the Gloag family started their whisky business in 1896, and marked a milestone in 1979 selling a record 1 million cases and then becoming a Scottish brand leader the following year. Today, The Famous Grouse is the number one selling whisky brand in Scotland and 6th best selling Scotch whisky in the world, selling in more than 100 countries. The company produces over 30 million bottles of the Famous Grouse every year and has been awarded The Royal Warrant which is issued to those who supply goods or services to a royal court and enables them to display the Royal Crest – the ultimate seal of approval.
The Famous Grouse whisky varieties can be found at LCBO and can be ordered directly through The Famous Grouse website: http://www.thefamousgrouse.com/
THE BLACK GROUSE WHISKY GIVEAWAY
And the best news of all, we’re giving away a bottle of Black Grouse! Similar to the Famous Grouse, it has a distinctive peaty character thanks to it’s spicy and dried fruit flavours.
An LCBO gift card valued at the price of a bottle of The Black Grouse ($34.95)
HOW TO ENTER
1. In the spirit of the upcoming April Fool’s Day, tweet to @BestofTorontoTV and @thefamousgrouse your favourite jokes or pranks to play on your friends. Can’t think of one? No worries! Just tweet us this:
Hey @bestoftorontoTV @thefamousgrouse I want to get mischievous with the peaty Black Grouse bit.ly/1FRHlf1
2. Follow @BestofTorontoTV on Twitter.
3. That’s it, good luck!
Contest closes April 1st at 12pm noon. One entry per twitter account. Must be legal drinking age to participate. Open to Ontario residents only. Upon confirmation, winner to provide contact info and mailing address for shipping of the prize.
Photos by James Shay.