The Famous Grouse

Founded in 1896 with a mission to produce exceptional blended Scotch, The Famous Grouse was born from a unique, unhurried production process. Today, hand-selected barrels, carefully sourced new-make, and regimented quality checks have made this classic blended Scotch Scotland’s top-selling whisky for over 40 years.

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Each bottle of The Famous Grouse demonstrates the exceptional quality that has defined the brand since it was established in 1896 by Matthew Gloag III when he inherited his family’s wine shop in Perthshire, Scotland. Gloag started the brand with a simple goal: to make the best blended whisky. Originally launched as The Grouse, named for the bird that roams the Scottish highlands, it was designed for the Scottish gentry who spent recreational hours on the hills. 

Thanks to its popularity, the brand became The Famous Grouse in 1905 and today the whisky has an even wider following. According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, it’s been the top-selling whisky in the U.K. for 40 years, beating out many big-name stalwarts.

The master blender, Craig Johnstone, and his team individually approve every new-make spirit—both single malt and grain—that he sources from distilleries in the Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, and islands. Evaluation of the hand-selected sherry casks and ex-bourbon barrels is just as rigorous. The casks are monitored from the moment they arrive at The Famous Grouse blending facility. Johnstone and his team conduct 79,000 cask-checks annually, nosing and tasting each one for quality control.

Under Johnstone’s watch, the spirit undergoes a process unique among blended Scotches. Once the whiskies from various barrels are blended together, they’re rested at marrying strength for 21 days to enhance the liquid’s velvety smoothness before being blended with grain. The result is a remarkably balanced whisky, with the ex-bourbon-barrel-aged grain whiskies lending it sweet notes and the malt, aged in first-fill sherry casks, contributing the fruity vibrancy. The founder drank his with soda, but versatility is its calling card. Mixing it with ginger ale brings the sweet spice and dried fruit notes to the fore.  

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As much as The Famous Grouse is defined by its heritage, the founder’s business acumen and understanding of contemporary tastes are reflected in the company today. In 2015, tapping into the ever-increasing peat craze, Smoky Black made its debut. Distinguished by the Islay and rare peated Highland malts in the blend, it offers a delicate smokiness that’s accentuated exceptionally well when mixed with cola and a squeeze of lime. The Penicillin cocktail, which mixes blended Scotch with a float of peated Scotch, offers the perfect opportunity to marry both Famous Grouse products into one perfectly balanced drink.

With a keen attention to detail and long commitment to quality, The Famous Grouse continues to offer exceptional blended Scotch, proving why it remains a top-seller year in and year out.