RELEASE OF CORE SINGLE MALTS
GLENTURRET SET TO REACH 250 YEARS IN 2025
For the first time in its modern history, Glenturret distillery, home to The Famous Grouse, released a core range of single malt whiskies in 2015 to celebrate Glenturret Distillery’s 240th anniversary with the launch of a no-age-statement range of Scotch whiskies, marking the brand’s foray into the single malt sector.
Three non-age-statement signature expressions are available to buy from the small Crieff distillery and independent retailers worldwide: Glenturret Sherry, Triple Wood and Peated. The distinctive new range reveals a bold return to the marketplace for the niche premium malt, traditionally used as a key ingredient in The Famous Grouse blend. After a downturn in the past lustrum, which saw an overall decline of four per cent, The Glenturret is trying to re-establish itself in the global malt market as a collectable-whisky-releasing specialist.
The Sherry Edition has been matured in Spanish and American oak ex-Sherry casks. In contrast, the Triple Wood has been aged in a mixture of American ex-Sherry, Spanish ex-Sherry and American ex-Bourbon casks. The Peated Edition has been produced using a run of peated spirit from Glenturret known as Ruadh Mhor (Big Red), which is predominantly blended into The Famous Grouse Smoky Black – formerly known as Black Grouse.
Glenturret single malts are rare in the world of whisky, truly handmade malts crafted with passion and care. This new core range draws on the very best of traditional, artisan production methods but focuses on profiling the taste of the malt, not simply its age.
Initial bottlings included a highly rated 1986 Commonwealth Games Edition, and the Brock Malloy, which sold out internationally within weeks.
Glenturret Famous Grouse Commonwealth Games Limited Edition 1986 70cl 46.4% ABV: The 2014 Commonwealth Games Limited Edition is a bottling of Highland single malt Glenturret at 27 years and 11 months. The nose is dense and oily with hints of ripe exotic fruits while the palate is medium-bodied, slightly waxy and with a touch of wild honey and ripe melon. The finish is long with hints of dried fruit and a butterfly kiss of oaky char. A much over-looked bottling that represents superb value.
The Brock Malloy: Glenturret Distillery has released a rare 28-year-old single-cask malt whisky, described as the best cask that has ever been released by Scotland’s oldest working distillery. Approximately 240 bottles of The Brock Malloy Edition #Cask 328 (70cl, bottled at cask-strength 47.1% ABV) were available to buy online. On 16 December 1986, two local still men, Hugh Malloy and Chic Brock delicately filled Cask 328 and skilfully warehoused the precious container to mature in silence for 28 years. The cask required no repair work in its 28 years and when the current Distillery Manager, tasted its contents he described it as the best cask laid down from that year. This attention and care from skilled hands resulted in notes of walnuts with oranges and a hint of jasmine to the nose, with spicy ginger and honeycomb to the palate.
Glenturret is a small, farmhouse-style distillery that continues to use traditional methods of whisky production to this day, including hand-mashing, and was transformed by owner Edrington into The Famous Grouse Experience in 2002. The water supply for the Glenturret comes via its own pipeline from Loch Turret which has its origin in Ben Chonzie. As the water used contributes much of the taste and character of the whisky, the purity and quality of the water are essential in the whisky-making process. Ben Chonzie is part of the Grampian Mountain Range and is a granitic intrusion, with a diorite composition. This geology has resulted in the extreme softness of the water of Loch Turret making it a suitable source for the whisky.
The distillery lays claim to being the oldest in Scotland, and while the new single malt releases are introduced in celebration of the site’s 240th anniversary, its assertion is contested by many other long-established distilleries. It’s known that an illicit distillery by the name of Hosh was operating at this site by 1775, but some sources claim that distillation was taking place there much earlier, circa 1717. The official founding of the distillery was in 1818, under John Drummond, at Crieff in the Southern Highlands. The name Glenturret was adopted in 1875 under the management of Thomas Stewart. It was taken from a nearby distillery that had gone by that name before failing in 1852.
Prohibition and war shortages hit the distillery hard in the 1920s and production came to a halt in 1921. Used for storing stocks of whisky which depleted totally by 1927, the distillery was dismantled in 1929. It reopened in 1957 under James Fairlie, who rebuilt the distillery and outfitted it with equipment from Tullibardine distillery, which was being refurbished at the time. Production resumed two years later and Fairlie ran the distillery for more than two decades until it was bought by Remy-Cointreau. After nine years it was purchased by Highland Distillers before they were taken over by Edrington in 1999.
The current owners are Swiss, with Glenturret jointly owned by the luxury goods company Lalique and billionaire Hansjörg Wyss who took over in 2019.
The distillery has a mash tun that only holds 1.05 tons, and is the only hand-stirred tun remaining in Scotland. It is equipped with eight Douglas Fir washbacks and a single pair of stills. Water for the distillery is drawn from Loch Turret just over 3km away. It has an upper production capacity of 340,000 litres of spirits a year, however, that is expected to reach half a million litres within a few years. The middle cut or “Heart of the Run,” suited to be made into malt whisky, averages around a high 68-76%, cut to 63.5% at the cask filling stage (by the addition of demineralised water), which is the norm for most distilleries. The author of ‘Scots On Scotch: The Book of Whisky’, describes Glenturret, “Its nose has the floweriness which is characteristic of such [bourbon cask]; it opens up with water and yields scents of elderflower and liebfraumilch. It is entirely honest, not appearing to be anything it isn’t, but what it is, is sufficient; an entirely pleasing and agreeable whisky.”
The current core lineup at Glenturret consists of a 10-year-old, as well as the Sherry Cask Edition, Triple Wood Edition, and the Peated Edition. These last three expressions were all released without an age statement. The 10-year-old has been described as an aperitif whisky, with a light nose of orange, vanilla and malt. Some spice from the sherry cask maturation comes through on the tongue with notes of ginger and cinnamon. This is joined by more sweet fruit flavours and some oak before a medium finish. The Peated Edition combines the distillery’s unpeated spirits with its heavily peated Ruadh Mor for an intoxicating mix of smoke, spice, and sweetness.
Recent Limited Releases include a 15-year-old and 30-year-old for those seeking a more mature whisky besides the 1986 Commonwealth Games Edition in 2014 and the cask-strength Brock Malloy in May 2015.
SUBSEQUENT SPECIAL CASK RELEASES
The Cask Series followed the 2015 trio. It is designed to showcase different types of oak casks, delivering a range of flavours to appeal to a wide range of consumers.
Famous Grouse Bourbon Cask, NAS, 40 %
The first in the series, The Famous Grouse Bourbon Cask, has been blended using a ‘high proportion’ of whisky matured in American oak and first-fill Bourbon casks.
The Bourbon cask influences are said to afford the whisky ‘a greater depth of caramel and vanilla flavours’ than the standard Famous Grouse blend.
Appearance: A pale golden, bright blend
Aroma: Fragrant, with hints of caramel and slightly honeyed
Taste: Vanilla ice cream, toasted coconut and citrus peel
Finish: A sweet soft oak finish
Famous Grouse Ruby Cask, NAS, 40 %
This is the second release in the Cask Series from Famous Grouse. The Famous Grouse Ruby Cask is a blended whisky that has been finished in Port wine-seasoned casks.
Aroma: Close to the standard Famous Grouse at first, but with an added earthiness and richness. The sherry notes are more obvious than any port notes, on the nose at least. Dried fruits, vanilla and cinnamon, but very sober and downtempo.
Taste: Surprisingly full-bodied. Rich notes of honey, caramel, vanilla and dried fruits.
Finish: Medium-long finish. Soft spiciness added now. And the same mild earthiness as on the nose - hints of wet leaves and black soil. A darker, deeper and wider sweetness towards the end. Sugar cubes dipped in orange-flavoured sherry and served with rich chocolate.
Famous Grouse Sherry Cask Finish, NAS, 40 %
The Famous Grouse Sherry Cask Finish was released in 19 markets globally. The 40% ABV whisky took two years to develop, according to the brand, and has been created from Speyside malts matured in European oak casks seasoned with sherry.
This new, revived blend is finished in Sherry casks and butts seasoned in the region of Jerez, Spain. The aim was to create a blend that is slightly sweeter but still in keeping with the smooth and distinct DNA of classic Grouse.
Once the blend is in its final stages of maturation, which involves the meticulous combination of hand-selected malt and grain whiskies, The Famous Grouse master blender does not stop there; the full blend is married in ex-Sherry casks to further enhance their sweet, rich, and smooth characters. The Sherry Cask Finish is a decadent blend of festive flavours including chocolate, almonds, dried fruits, and sweet spices.
The packaging pays tribute to the Spanish female Capercaillie
bird, part of the grouse family, a large woodland Grouse found in Spain. This
particular bird was chosen for its link to the product’s Spanish Sherry
heritage, as well as its orange and red plumage, which ‘echoes the deep amber’
of the liquid. Its packaging design features – and was inspired by – the
Capercaillie. The brand has announced its intention to support the bird’s local
habitat through the release, although no further details on this initiative
were made immediately available.
Aroma: On the nose, there are aromas of cocoa, and cherries, along with sherry and light oak from the casks. A balance of fresh orange and poached pear, cherry blossom, moist sultanas and cocoa beans intermingled with sweet cinnamon and ginger spice.
Taste: On the palate, the flavour of sherry, fruit and herbs come through - and there is a definite sweetness on the tongue. Smooth in texture and rich in character. A combination of oaky vanilla dark chocolate maple syrup, toasted almonds and hazelnuts.
Finish: The finish is bursting with flavours, with warming notes of dried fruits in Christmas cake and hints of chocolate and spice lingering in the mouth.
Famous Grouse Releases Famous Lions Whisky
The Famous Grouse launched The Famous Lions, a limited-edition whisky that celebrates its role as the official sponsor and whisky of the British and Irish Lions. The brand was announced as the Official Whisky of the Tour to South Africa in 2021.
The Famous Lions bottling features a Famous Grouse label amended to read “The Famous British & Irish Lions.” The Scotch will be made available exclusively through Tesco early in the year. The iconic whisky brand says it will make an ideal dram to sip or to mix in its signature Grouse and Ginger cocktail while watching the British and Irish Lions in action in South Africa in summer.
The launch of The Famous Lions is an addition to The Famous Grouse range that demonstrates the spirit of rugby and how much the owners value the sport. They have been investing in the sport of rugby for the past 30 years and are proud to announce their commitment to this great game through this partnership. They hope to engage with The Famous Grouse and Lions fans by offering a bespoke bottle to celebrate our coming together.”
In late November, The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky unveiled its new Spend Time in Grouse Country campaign. When Matthew Gloag founded his iconic Whisky brand back in 1896, he chose to forgo his own self-promotion by naming The Famous Grouse not after himself, but after the occasion for which it was created – a rewarding refreshment to share after a day in the outdoors. The new campaign invites consumers to “Spend Time in Grouse Country” and enjoy their preferred moments and special occasions, whether by the fire, in the great outdoors, or catching up with friends in a socially distanced setting or online.
The New Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky: The Famous One
The Famous Grouse launched The Famous One expression, its first blended whisky with an initial exclusive online retail period. This Famous expression had been developed "with all the complexity, smooth taste, quality and character" of its classic blend. It uses a blend of grain and malt whiskies selected by The Famous Grouse master blender and matured in sherry-seasoned American oak casks and ex-Bourbon casks.
The Famous One pays homage to those who have dedicated many years of service to The Famous Grouse over its 40-year history, with each bottle bearing a roundel with the words 'Hard Graft, Great Craft'. Selective maturation is used in the American oak sherry casks and ex-bourbon barrels to achieve the sweeter, more honeyed characteristics of the blend. Each cask provides its own unique flavour attributes, the sherry-seasoned American oak adds complex characters of citrus and vanilla. This is complemented by the ex-bourbon American oak barrels enhancing the fudge and toffee sweeter tones.
The distillery revealed that The Famous Grouse wanted to create a blend that allowed people enjoying whisky for the first time to explore a softer, sweeter, flavour profile. The Famous One retains all of the brand's complexity and smooth texture and with the additional honeyed and other characteristics, it truly stands out on its own. The aim was to create a modern and more indulgent take on The Famous Grouse: one that is still perfect for sharing with friends but designed to be enjoyed in a range of smooth, sweet whisky serves.
Accelerated by the pandemic, e-commerce has become a crucial part of their business and this milestone launch - which will be the first Famous Grouse blend to be available exclusively online for an initial period - marks a new era for the brand. This will allow marketers to test the waters and gain insight into customers' new shopping habits as they look to the future.
The Famous One retails for £23 a bottle (70cl). It was launched in the UK on 17 March 2022 and was available to purchase on Amazon. It has all the makings of a sure-fire success: the world’s largest e-commerce site promoting an easy-drinking whisky from an established brand. At the quoted price for a 70cl bottle, it’s certainly rivalling its key competitors for value.