The story of the Gloag Family goes back tot he early 1800s when Matthew Gloag had a grocery store in Perth, Scotland — importing wine and purchasing local Whiskies to resell. Two generations later, his grand-nephew — also named Matthew — took over the family business and blended a custom Scotch he called The Grouse. His daughter designed the now famous grouse label when they renamed the Whiskey “The Famous Grouse” in 1905. The brand was sold to Highland Distillers in 1970 who devoted production and marketing resources, building it up to one of the most popular Scotch Whiskies in the world by 1980 and receiving a Royal Warrant from the Queen in 1984. Today, The Famous Grouse sells more than 2 million cases per year across a tidy range of blended Scotch spirits.
Dare we say it? Famously… The Famous Grouse folks decided that finished Scotch Whiskies need not cost an arm and a leg. They have always been focused on quality, consistency, and value, but just last year they launched a new line of “affordable” cask-finished Scotches. The first out the door is The Famous Grouse Bourbon Cask. To be clear, The Famous Grouse is a blend of great Scotch Whiskies and some of them have been initially aged in Bourbon casks, and some not. What’s different here is that the core spirits have been married and finished for up to six months more in ex-Bourbon casks. And it makes a difference. That extra time in a first-fill casks deepens the flavor profile and really opens up the aromas. It’s The Famous Grouse — elevated.
Originally being called “The Grouse” created some marketing issues. To “grouse” also means to complain or grumble in many English-speaking countries. Changing to “The Famous Grouse” and putting a rendering of the actual bird on the label in 1905 made a big difference.