Saturday, August 19, 2017

Whisky Review: The Famous Grouse "Smoky Black"

Scotch Whisky Review

The Famous Grouse "Smoky Black"

Blended Scotch Whisky


Widely Available

Bottle Format
750 ml

Metal Twist off Cap

Artificial Color
Yes E150a.

Chill Filtration

Nose (undiluted)
I detect a sweet nose of sherry that is a distinct signature of this blend.  With the sherry sweetness is also some peat, wood smoke and anise.

Palate (undiluted)
Sherry red fruits, sweet grains that meld with fennel, anise and hickory wood smoke.

Finish (undiluted)
Spiced smoke, oak, mackerel, kippers and bacon wrapped scallops.

General Impressions
In this category, I am impressed.  The grain whiskies are not bitter or overly sweet.  They are counter-balanced by the peated malt of the Glenturret Distillery.  Nothing offensive here and the smoky backbone underneath the sherry body keeps reeling you in for another sip!

Highly recommended!


Jason Debly


  1. Nice review. I've been tempted to try this for a while. I've only had basic Grouse once, after a funeral in Glasgow, and it was decent stuff for a cheap blended Scotch. I'll definitely try and get a bottle in this winter.

    1. It's only slightly more expensive than the standard, but a lot better within the blend category.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hi Jason, this is Philip from Austria, a short question: Do you have an idea if this is the same blend they sold as "Black Grouse" before (maybe until two years ago)? It is a bit confusing, because on their current webpage they also offer a filling cold "The Black Grouse Alpha Edition"....Thanks a lot! Philip

    1. It is very hard to know the truth without a contact at Edrington (the owner of the brand), but my understanding is that Black Grouse is not the same as Smoky Black. Smoky Black has peated Glenturret or more of it than Black Grouse. Black Grouse is less peated.

      Based on my tasting of both, Black Grouse has a stronger sherry influence than Smoky.

      Black Grouse has gone through a couple of transformations in terms of its blending recipe. When it was first launched, it was a huge peat and smoke monster with plenty of young Islay malts blended in there. It tasted like young Ardbeg. Then sales were not so great because the average consumer prefers more sweet and less peated/smoked flavor profiles, so a few years ago, the flavor profile became dramatically less peated and smoked, but more sherried.

      Other brands have undergone a similar transformation. Black Bottle is a blend that had been for decades very peated and smoked but in a delicious way. Suddenly a couple of years ago it too became sherried with a mere wisp of its former smoke and peat Islay self. What a turn for the worse!!!

      Owners of these brands only care about sales and if they think changing the blend recipe will achieve that then so be it. For decades this was not the case, but now with these companies more keenly determined to wring out profits each quarter for their shareholders, nothing is sacred, especially your old go-to blend. That's my opinion only and I am stickin' to it!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Thank you Jason for your detailed answer! If "Smoky Black" is more peated than "Black Grouse" was before, than I will definitely give "Smoky Black" a chance and pick up a bottle! Cheers, Philip

  4. Smokey back is the worst scotch I have ever tried. It's not Smokey and wastage of money...

  5. Terrible, it made me feel sick.

    I was shocked to read that it contains E150a. I though that by law, whisky had be pure, I mean made the traditional way with no artificial ingredients.