Black Grouse Alpha Edition Review

“ Not Much Of A Man”

Country: Scotland
Brand: Black Grouse Alpha Edition
Blended By: Matthew Gloag & Son Ltd, Perth
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40%

Colour: Dark Gold

Nose: The light Smoke and dirty Earth are more similar to young Highland Park than to Islay Malts. The Smoke is less dense than I expected. I also find Grain Alcohol, Biscuits, Toasted Refill Oak, Nut Shells, Pencil Shavings, Toffee, Dried Fruits, Straw, Sugar, Honey, light Citrus, Barley, light Spices and hints of Cocoa Powder and Ashes. There is a rather Musty feeling to the Nose and the Alcohol is not fully integrated. It's not bad but I had expected more of the Alpha.

Taste: Thin and Sugary Sweet. I find Dirty Earth, light Smoke, Charred Oak, Grain Alcohol, Biscuits, Toffee, slightly Bitter Almonds, light Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, light Menthol, Lemon, light Vanilla, Raisins and Cocoa Powder. There's a slight hint of Macallan Sherry but you have to dig deep to get it.  

Finish: Short, slightly Bitter and Dry toward the end. I find slightly Harsh Grain Alcohol, Toasted Oak, Dirty Earth, Cigarette Ashes, light Pepper, Bitter Almonds, light Citrus, light Menthol and a hint of Bitter Chocolate. 

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose gets some extra Grass and Straw. Palate and Finish become too Thin however. Best enjoy this Blend over ice.

Rating: 79 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5- Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 19.5

General Remarks: This expression in the Grouse Blended Whisky series was launched for Travel Retail only in 2011 but by the end of 2012 it had become widely available. It is meant to be a better and smokier version of the Black Grouse. This is done by adding higher proportions of longer aged Malts. Black Grouse is owned by the Edrington Group that also also owns Macallan, Glenturret and Highland Park. These whiskies form the heart of the standard Black Grouse and the Alpha edition. Next to these, the Alpha also contains Grain Whisky and Islay Malt. The packaging and presentation are very nice and the Alpha price is reasonable at an average 50 US Dollars (June 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay.

Conclusion: I had expected a lot more of this Black Grouse Alpha Edition. It's not a lot better than the standard Black Grouse nor a whole lot smokier. It's a normal Middle-Class Blended Whisky. The Grain Alcohol rules and I only notice a light Malt presence. I clearly get Highland Park. The Macallan is there but you have to dig for it. I don't think the Alpha edition is worth the extra buck despite the slick presentation. If you like the Grouse, stay with the Standard Black. Or better, try out the JW Black. You will find it more rewarding as a smoky Blend! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                   June 15, 2015

There's certainly Macallan in this Alpa Edition!


Richard said...

Jan, On the second to last sentence in your review you said "JW Black". I think that you meant "JW Double Black". JWB12 (absolutely love it) has a hint of smoke. JWDB (surprisingly good experience) is moderately smoked. Slainte, Richard Cuccia

Jan van den Ende said...

Hi Richard, thanks for commenting! Why do I see the name Ray Raymond appearing? Any idea.? With respect to your comment the following. I really meant JW Black. I seem to have a different view on the smokiness of B and DB. I find the standard B smokier although not as much as say 5 years ago. The DB to me is something between Black and the old Green taste wise. Much softer and rounder. Personally I think the DB is overpriced. Cheers, Jan.

Richard said...

Jan, Ray Raymond is an internet name. Sometimes, it is better to not expose your real self at all times.

"With respect to your comment the following. I really meant JW Black 12. I seem to have a different view on the smokiness of B and DB. I find the standard B smokier although not as much as say 5 years ago."

OK. I'm not familiar with JWB from 5 years & older ago. I didn't start my distilled spirits discovery until early 2012.. Prior to that, & now for that matter, I have been in the local Crescent City Homebrewers Club & a prolific beer taster, not beer drinker. Life is too short to drink a whole beer. In all cases, 2 oz each of 10 different beers is the way to go with beer tasting. :)

Regarding FG Black Alpha, I assumed that it had similar smokiness as FG Black. Assuming that, I guessed that JWB12 had less smoke than FGB Alpha & that FGB Alpha was closer in smokiness to JWDB than to JWB12. Hmmm, bad me.

Presently, I find JWB (which I dearly love as a restaurant dram & an everyday dram) to have a sufficient hint/measure of smoke which is just enough to let one know that he is tasting a Scotch Whisky & not something else.

JWDB is definitely much smokier than either JWB12 or JWGreen15. Also, JWDB is overpriced at the $30-40 price point. However, it is still a good experience regardless of price & for innate quality.

I have the Famous Grouse Black & found it to be an acceptable, but not outstanding, smoky base-grade Scotch Why. At its price point of about $25-$30, FGB is good enough as a base-grade smoky Sc Why. Regarding innate, intrinsic quality excluding the low price, FGB acceptable, but nothing special. In comparison, at the same low or lower price point, I find Teacher's Highland Cream to be an excellent base-grade Sc Why. Regarding innate, intrinsic quality excluding the low price, THC is darn good, & not merely acceptable as is FGB.

Further, JWG15 is a superior whisky by any measure, especially at the present (carefully searched out) price point of $50-$60. I love it, & with the recent 2015 re-release, I purchased enough in the $50 area to last me the rest of my life. (I'm presently 66.) Additionally, maybe my tasting senses are not sensitive enough, but I could not find any discernible difference between the old JWG15 & the new 2015 re-release JWG15.

Slainte, Richard

Jan van den Ende said...

Thanks for your views Richard! I completely agree with you on the Green. To me that is and was the best JW ever! I think I differ with you and others on the smokiness of the JW Black. That happens of course as tasting whisky or any other food or drinks is highly personal after all. About the THC the following. We have a Brazilian version of this Blend whereby whisky is imported from Scotland and is watered down in Brazil. I have tasted that expression and it's horrible. But the original version seems to be good. Never tried it though. If you could send me a sample I would be grateful. Of course I would pay the postage. Just let me know and thanks once again for your comment.!