How The Famous Grouse Became the Number One Spirit of Scotland

By Jessica Huras

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When our sense of curiosity is piqued, it motivates us to try something different and step beyond the ordinary. It was a curiosity for what was possible and a desire to push boundaries that first inspired Matthew Gloag. Back in 1896, Gloag created what would eventually become Scotland’s number one whisky for over 40 years, The Famous Grouse. Gloag, a grocer from Perthshire, Scotland sought to develop a smooth, blended whisky that was more than the sum of its parts.

He created a blended whisky made for relaxing and celebrating after a rewarding day in the countryside. Rather than naming this delicious whisky after himself, he instead named it after an occasion in tribute to Perthshire’s favourite bird as an homage to its home “The Grouse,” an animal known for its own curious nature.

Gloag’s daughter, Philippa, drew the image of the grouse that still appears on every bottle label to this day. Quickly embraced by those who tried it, the whisky was soon renamed The Famous Grouse in 1905, in honour of its iconic reputation.


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The Famous Grouse is revered for its smooth, perfectly balanced flavour, which comes from a signature blend of hand-selected grain whiskies and malt whiskies. Sourced from distilleries found across the Lowland, Highland, Speyside, and Island regions of Scotland. Every distillate is nosed by The Famous Grouse’s Master Blender and blending team to ensure its unique character and signature quality. These carefully-selected distillates, each add a layer of complexity to The Famous Grouse, enhancing the depth of its flavour.

This blended whisky is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and sherry oak casks to further deepen its nuanced taste. As the whisky of choice in a country known for its whisky, The Famous Grouse always delivers on quality and taste. In 1984, The Famous Grouse received a Royal Warrant, the official stamp of approval from the British royal family.

For more than 125 years, after Gloag first developed his now-renowned blend, The Famous Grouse remains one of Scotland’s oldest continuously-operating distilleries. Today, the label gives back to its beloved namesake, partnering with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and working to increase the range of natural habitats for the endangered black grouse, among other initiatives.

You may want to enjoy your first glass straight or on the rocks, so you can best savour its balanced taste. When you pour The Famous Grouse into your glass, you will notice aromas of citrus peel, barley, and buttery shortbread. Your first sip brings the gentle, sweet taste of dried fruit, along with hints of cinnamon, ginger, and oak.

The Famous Grouse is equally wonderful when served in whisky cocktails, such as The Famous Seltzer – a simple mix of The Famous Grouse and soda water, finished with a squeeze of lemon. Whichever way you choose to enjoy The Famous Grouse, pay homage to its homeland by raising your glass in a toast of “slainte,” which means “health” in Scottish Gaelic, and let The Famous Grouse’s smooth flavour ignite your sense of curiosity with every sip.