Cigar Aficionado

The Famous Grouse Debuts a Vatted Malt

Count The Famous Grouse among the Scotch whiskies to bring vatted malts to America.

The 10-year-old malt whisky from the company that creates the best-selling blended whisky in Scotland is not a single malt nor a blend, but a marriage of malts that contains no grain whiskies. It joins Johnnie Walker Pure Malt (or Green Label) among recent arrivals to these shores in that category.

The Famous Grouse Malt Whisky was rolled out in June in some of the strongest markets of the blend of the same name: Boston, Chicago and Denver. It is expected to become available in other East Coast cities soon. It has already been available on the duty-free market.

A product of Remy Amerique, The Famous Grouse uses The Macallan (Speyside) and Highland Park (Orkney Islands) as its core malts. Renowned blender John Ramsay created the taste, which consists of malts aged a minimum of 10 years.

To the eye it has a deep amber color with a hint of green and gorgeous legs. On the nose it shows a beguiling tussle between the two regions, at once floral and apple-like as well as betraying sour olives and a grittiness followed by toffee and the slightest bit of sherry. On the tongue you have more of the same, plus a briny flavor, perfume and walnuts. The longish finish bespeaks cheese and a kind of heathery peat flavor.

Vatted, or pure, malts represent a category of Scotch whisky that, while highly respected in the United Kingdom, is only now getting the attention it accords in the United States. Vatted malts are often created to commemorate events such as royal weddings.

The Famous Grouse Malt Whisky sells for an average price of $29.95 and joins The Famous Grouse Finest and Gold Reserve (12-year-old) among the label whiskies.