Whisky Focus - The Famous Grouse Masters of the Famous Blend

The Famous Grouse Masters of the Famous Blend


16th March 2017
The Famous Grouse Masters share there knowledge through the Famous Blend bartender engagement programme in Glasgow.

Kirsteen Campbell The Famous Grouse Master Blender giving an insight into the the complex art of blending whisky.

I recently had the chance to attend The Famous Grouse Masters of the Famous Blend bartender engagement programme in Glasgow which brought together the Masters behind The Famous Grouse blended whisky including Master Blender, Kirsteen Campbell; Master of Wood, Stuart MacPherson; Global Brand Ambassador, Lucy Whitehall; and Master of Mixology David Miles from the Maxxium Mixxit team.

Aimed at giving bartenders an insight into Scotland's favourite and the UK's best selling blended whisky, the event was kicked off by the Famous Grouse's enthusiastic Global Brand Ambassador, Lucy Whitehall who introduced the audience to the ‘four fundamentals’ of The Famous Grouse brand: foundation; finest; flavour; and fusion, before providing a fascinating overview of the heritage of the famous brand, and the foundation it is built on.

Stuart McPherson who carries the rather odd title "Master of Wood", then gave us an interesting incite into the Famous Grouse wood policy and the impact that this has on the flavour of the whisky.

Kirsteen Campbell The Famous Grouse Master Blender then gave us an insight into the the complex art of blending whisky by first of all presenting the audience with some interesting new make malt spirits from a few of the Edrington Group owned distilleries as well as some grain spirit from their part owned North British distillery grain distillery in Gorgie, Edinburgh.

Ruadh Maor new make malt spirit produced at the Glenturret distillery.

The new make spirit sample which caught my interest was Ruadh Maor malt spirit, a peated malt which is produced at the home of the Famous Grouse, the Glenturret distillery. Ruadh Maor is produced using heavily peated malted barley, 80ppm, which is a significantly high number, of course this number is reduced during the distillation process. Ruadh Maor has been produced at Glenturret since 2009 and other than one bottling released in The Whisky Shop chain all Ruadh Maor goes to blending. In fact it is Ruadh Maor that gives Smoky Black (formerly known as Black Grouse) its smoky character. I asked Kirsteen what the peating level is in Smoky Black, she told me that it is around 17ppm, which to put it in perspective is around half of what you would find in an Islay single malt such as Caol Ila 12 year old. Personally I think the peat level in the Smoky Black is spot on and it is one of the best smoky blends available.

Kirsteen also took us through a tasting of a few whiskies from The Famous Grouse range, starting with the aptly named Famous Grouse "Finest", which is an old favourite of mine and probably out of any Scotch blended whisky the one I have drunk most over the years, you try and find a bar in Scotland that hasn't got a bottle on the gantry and there is a very good reason for that it is a very good, very complex and very enjoyable medium bodied blend with a lovely balance of sherry and bourbon cask matured malt whisky blending in well with the sweet grain.

Kirsteen then introduced us to the Famous Grouse Mellow Gold which was only added to the range a couple of years ago, it is certainly a smooth, mellow easy to drink expression of The Famous Grouse with a noticeable sherry influence.

Last but not least Kirsteen talked us through the Smoky Black which as I mentioned above gets its smokiness from a rare single malt produced at Glenturret called Ruadh Maor, this is a lovely rich, spicy, sweet and smoky blend, smooth but still with a touch of roughness which works well with this smoky style of the Grouse.

Finishing off the presentation was Master of Mixology David Miles from the Maxxium Mixxit team. David demonstrated a range of serves from simple through to the more complex cocktails which certainly got the interest of the bartenders in the audience. David demonstrated that at the heart of a good whisky cocktail is a good spirit and how different expressions of the Famous Grouse are suited to specific cocktails.

Following the presentation I got the chance to sit down with Kirsteen and put a few questions to her about what her job involves with Scotland's favourite and the UK's best selling Scotch blended whisky. You can read my interview with Kirsteen Campbell HERE

You will find the current range of The Famous Grouse available from specialist online whisky retailers such as Master of Malt
 

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