There are all kinds of special variations on the blended whisky The Famous Grouse. Some are limited, some are parts of the core range. There’s The Snow Grouse (blended grain designed to be drunk chilled), The Black Grouse (a slightly smokier version), The Naked Grouse (sherried deluxe version), The Famous Vanilla, etc.
The Black Grouse ‘Alpha Edition’ is intended to be an even richer, smokier version of the already smoky The Black Grouse. It still contains the original base malts (Glenturret, Macallan, Highland Park) but it revolves more around peated Islay whiskies as well. Originally a travel retail exclusive, it’s now widely available.
The Black Grouse ‘Alpha Edition’
(40%, OB 2013)
Nose: surprisingly smooth – even a little bland for a blend that is intended to be smoky. Sweet honey and toffee up front. Popcorn. Plenty of orange peel. Hints of sweet oak. Some toasted notes in the background.
Mouth: fruity sweetness, with almonds and caramel. The more grassy notes, and a grainy harsh note which evolves towards liquorice and peat. Aniseed as well.
Finish: medium long, with dark chocolate, charry dryness and some peat smoke.
I suppose some blend drinkers may think this is the real Islay style, but it isn’t. It stays too much on the docile side to be exciting. Add in some bitterness and grainy harshness and you’ve got something I don’t really appreciate. Around € 35.