Here’s a whisky that is not going to score outrageous marks or anything, but will certainly hold a bit of a special spot in my dark, shriveled l’il heart.
Any constant readers here will know that the Grouse and I…we ain’t exactly tight. Both the standard expression and the Black Grouse are bottles I wouldn’t even consider levying on my enemies, let alone pouring for mates. With that in mind, I concede that I walk into any new Grouse expression with a skepticism and tripidation almost paralleling the optimism with which I embrace new Ardbeg or Amrut releases. Right or wrong, it is reality, and sort of hearkens back to an expression an old boss of mine likes to use: ‘You are what you’re perceived to be’. Meaning, of course, that the Grouse, to me, will always be defined by those initial foul encounters, until I can taste enough decent ones to change my overall perception of the brand.
So…imagine my surprise when I find this 12 year old blended malt (‘vatted malt’, damn it!) is actually pretty damn good. First things first, there is obviously no grain whisky in here. This is a polygamous marriage of nothing more than single malts. With a stable of whiskies including the Macallan, Highland Park, Glenrothes and such to work with, it shouldn’t be stretch to come up with something decent. And thankfully, that is exactly what has happened. Finally…one of my least favourite brands releases a whisky I can really get my teeth into. Nice!
Now if only they’d take some ‘lessons learned’ from this and apply them to the standard Grouse expression.
Nose: Orange and crunchy red apple right up front. Prune and chocolate. Some nice smooth sandalwood notes and a little clean oakiness. Maraschino. Could be something with a little age in here, I think. Nice balance and very surprising.
Palate: Orange and other fruit mish-mash. Somewhat bubble gum-like somewhere in there. There is some malt and characteristics of some sherried malts buried herein (i.e. rich, if underpowered, and bearing echoes of fruitcake, not to put too fine a point on it). Fades to grains. While still quite good, the palate can’t deliver what the nose hints at. Either way…I’m happy with this one.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt