The Black Grouse, a peated version of the widely available The Famous Grouse (see my tasting notes here), is not widely distributed, and has received mixed reviews from critics. The peated malt is sourced from Islay, which explains the “campfire” notes, but (in my opinion) it is not married in a successful way. The peat is one-dimensional and sort of “stands alone” against the typical Famous Grouse flavors. Here are my notes, and thanks to bartender Matt Knowlton at The Park Lunch in Newburyport, MA for the taste!
Nose: Mild peat (not aggressive) with a thin veneer of sweet cider and toffee.
Palate: Big peat, very Islay. Nicely creamy body. A little brown sugar and butterscotch is overwhelmed by nondescript peat in a campfire, woodsmoke way.
Finish: The peat pervades like a Laphroaig but without the maritime flavor.
Water sweetens the peat reek, thins the body, but elevates the flavors which turn bright and a little fruity. Definitely a mixer.
Overall: Not bad, but you’d probably be better off blending peated malt into a favorite blended whisky by yourself. That said, a bottle won’t go to waste if you want a peated alternative to your typical blended malt, just don’t expect the moon.