Black Grouse (and the Black & Blue cocktail)

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The makers of Famous Grouse blended scotch have a new offering: Black Grouse. The new guy is a blend of smoky, peaty malts and Famous Grouse. It seems like an attempt to snare scotch fans who prefer single malt Islay to the blends but are looking for an affordable, everyday (and possibly mixable) alternative. It goes for about $25–$30 a bottle.

A pleasantly smoky nose is followed by a nice peated start on the front of the palate. However, as it travels farther back the sophistication falls apart and instead of finishing with the warmth expected from whisky, you’re left with a sharp note similar to vodka. For this reason, I wouldn’t choose it for drinking straight.

Where Black Grouses shows its potential is in mixed drinks. Smoky cocktails are showing up in more bars, and people are looking to emulate this at home. Mixers like juice and liqueur take advantage of the rich starting flavors and balance out the harshness that would normally be at the finish. I’d give it a try in a Blood and Sand, for example.

Tinkika Green and Andrew Duncan of Blue Smoke in New York created a cocktail for Black Grouse to complement some barbecue items on their menu. Combining smoky with sweet works, with the help of some apple brandy. Photo, recipe and sample courtesy of Famous Grouse.


  • 2 oz Black Grouse
  • ½ oz calvados (apple brandy)
  • ½ oz amaretto
  • ¼ oz hazelnut liqueur


Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

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