Bare naked and stripped down, it’s The Naked Grouse

I’ve got to say, it’s a really pretty looking bottle, it will definitely be reused as a candlestick. I’m talking about the premium offering from The Edrington Group’s Grouse portfolio, The Naked Grouse.

They’ve kept it nice and simple. With the discrete neck label and embossed grouse design on the bottle, I can understand the philosophy behind the marketing; they want the spirit to speak for itself without any label influenced preconceptions.

 Yes, I know, this sounds like the sales pitch, and it is very enchanting, but we’re also cynical and a bit wary so we’re not going to be sucked in, right? I would say that it’s a risky approach, relying purely on the brand name to sell it, but maybe that’s a sign of confidence. Is that confidence well placed?

Well, first of all it smells a wee bit like sweet, cold milky coffee with a touch of lemon sherbet and a couple of salty beach pebbles. There was a strong scent of highland toffee in a very soft and tightly integrated salty, warm nose. Before long it bursts open with tonnes of cinnamon, warm dark chocolate, butterscotch, juicy melon and a touch of bitterness like the rind from mature brie. After a little while longer it developed more herbal notes like toasted rosemary from a lamb roasting tin, and a tiny hint of sherry vinegar skirting around the edge.

Initially the palate was quite spirity and tasted a bit like warm sawdust and dry orange skins. But after it settled down it was rich and creamy giving way to mild chilli oil, sweet cocoa powder, and Christmas pudding mix full of cinnamon spice, rich butterscotch and juicy dried fruit.
The finish was a fleeting visit. Almost as quickly as you get the nice dry, sandy, character and fresh green leaves it disappears – which is a shame because after the robust, complex nose and palate you have pretty high expectation and want it to carry on forever.

I really like this whisky; it doesn’t quite grab me and give me a good slap for my attention, but when you pour yourself a dram it’s a great big bear hug that’ll have you going back for more.