I first tried Black Grouse nearly three years ago, and I wasn’t all that impressed.
There were however a number of reason for this. First of all, it was a blind sample after a number of particularly powerful single malts (single malts are not necessarily better than blends, it’s a matter of taste); secondly, at that time, my taste for peaty whisky was a little under-developed.
Nonetheless, whisky can be like a job interview, if you’re having a bad day and don’t make a good first impression you’re knackered, and you’ll do anything for a second chance. The point I’m making here is that you should always be open-minded enough give a dram a second chance, you might get a wee surprise, and I did.
So, I went back through my tasting book and this is what I wrote about it:
“The nose was initially quite overpowering with warm caramel and a high spirit burn to it. After allowing it to breathe for a while it smelled like hot sun on a petrol lawnmower with a touch of cough syrup sweetness. With water there was candied fruit on the nose and treacle on the palate. Mixed with ginger beer seems to be the ideal combination. The dry sweetness of the whisky was just noticeable through the strength of the ginger beer with a pleasant smoky finish. I will not voluntarily drink this dram again.”
That last line, I think, was a wee bit harsh, so I take it back – because I did quite happily have it again.
This is what I thought of it a few weeks ago:
On the nose I got a burst of light, sweet peat with a blanket blood oranges, boiled toffee sweets, a touch of lemon peel around the edge of the glass, and a hint moist pipe tobacco.
There was a nice heavy texture to the palate with that sweet pipe tobacco punching through, and a tiny wee bit of fresh orange juice. There isn’t much length but it does linger for a short time with peat smoke wafting over a pebble beach on a stormy day.
Somebody recommended that I try it in a Black and Black – a cocktail of Black Grouse, ice, a wedge of orange, and topped-up with cola. It was actually pretty good, I could still get a hint of peat through the other ingredients and the wedge of orange nicely enhanced the whisky.
Personally I’m not the biggest fan of this style of drink, but you should give it a shot, see what happens – or even with the ginger beer, which seemed to do the trick three years ago.
It’s not going to change your life, but in its price range, as a session dram with a kick, this will do nicely.