Budget Whisky Review 1: Black Grouse
Hi drammers, this is my first post I have been into whisky for about 5 years and have tasted many a malt in that time. I was lucky to lived mainly in Japan during that time, where the range and price of quality whisky is unbelievable. My fav standard bottlings include Yoichi, Talisker, Aberlour, Laphroaig and Springbank. Now I am back in New Zealand and on a slightly more constrained budget I have begun researching lower-priced whisky. I will post a series of reviews on my journey through the world of budget malts and blends, hopefully some other poor bastards out there will find them useful!!
My first experiment was a bottle of Black Grouse which I have just finished (not in one sitting) It cost me NZ$40 which is very reasonable for whisky in New Zealand. Black Grouse is a marriage of peated Islay malts with the standard Famous Grouse. So how was it...?
When I first opened the bottle and had a sniff I was delighted - a delicious aroma of sweet peat wafted out. Then I poured a glass, stuck my nose in and...oh no! The peat had been largely replaced with the sickly grainy stink of a cheap blend. Huge turn off. Anyway, I had a swig and rolled it around in my mouth. First impression was a hit of sickly grain, and I also noted that it was medium-thin, definately not mouth coating. The swallow was better, the peat returned amidst a decent, medium length finish which still contained a good dose of 'cheap blend' flavour. One thing I noticed is that this blend is smooth - almost no burn. I finished my dram, savouring certain aspects of the whisky (the peat) but not enjoying the sickly grain and wishing I'd splashed out on a Laphroaig instead.
So that was my first impression - doesn't sound so good huh? Well I hope nobody has been put off by my lengthy review and stopped reading already coz it gets better! What I discovered is this - add a couple of drops of water (not much coz it's only 40%), cover your glass and leave for 30 mins. I seldom do this with malts coz I like all the raw flavour but I found this is an excellent method of getting rid of the 'cheap blend' flavours present in the Black Grouse. Now when I returned to the glass it smelled more like a very soft Islay with only a hint of the blend smell left. It really was a different whisky, and good enough that I polished off half a bottle during an extended Roland Garros viewing session!
Tip: When applying the 'add water and stand' method, always have two glasses on the go so you are never without a dram!
Summary: This blend really needs a drop of water and a rest before dramming - but then it becomes a good, solid whisky with a decent whack of peat. Very good for the price.
Value for money: 83
|black grouse, grouse|
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