Snow Grouse: the toughest bird in Britain

Snow Grouse - not so tough after all... VS. Amy Winehouse

Snow grouse is apparently the toughest bird in Britain. I could make a cheesy joke and say that ornithologists have not been to the Espionage club in Edinburgh on a Saturday night yet, there are usually a few birds pondering around there, who would eat snow grouse for starters after a few Smirnoff alco-pops. I could also make a reference to our prime export artist, Amy. But I won’t. We write a decent blog here, right? We don’t make bad jokes that only hardcore Edinburghers understand. Oh, and we never (and I mean NEVER) call young ladies ‘birds’.

Let’s focus on the whisky at hand. It is airport limited so Euan bought a bottle when coming back from one of his epic drinking trips (that one was to Munich I think). A few days after his happy return he drunk some and pronounced his opinion. It wasn’t favourable. The instinct of protecting the good image of whisky you actually paid for, failed him. At that stage I was biased and didn’t really want to drink it. That would have been the end of story…

…If not for the unusually snowy winter season that Edinburgh is enjoying suffering from this year. Chris and I naturally wanted to address this issue. Chris wrote his Whisky & Snow: Survival Guide and I was invited by Euan to sample the snowiest of all Scotches, the toughest of all birds. The Snow Grouse.

It’s not new, it’s not fresh but it still turns heads. Edrington released this whisky last year as the final pillar of the re-formed trio (Famous Grouse and Black Grouse being the other two). And they have definitely shown guts. A blended grain, with serving recommendation: seriously chilled. That’s an easy target, too easy if you ask me. But they know the rules of this game. They complimented it with beautiful packaging, frosted glass, snow and mountains. This is all usually associated with premium vodkas. Would that be a trial? A signal that they want to take on the big boys from the East? Who knows. One thing is for sure, the bottle does the job.

Is it as bad as Euan said?

Well, no!

It has very funny, pale colour you would never associate with whisky. It’s gloopy beyond reckoning when you take it out of the freezer. It doesn’t smell of much because it doesn’t evaporate at the rate we are used to. It has a texture on the palate that resembles engine oil. I could keep going but you know what? This all doesn’t matter because this whisky wasn’t created to savour in the first place. It was made to shoot, mix and shake, and I can imagine it doing just fine there. It’s not ‘tasty’ in the whisky dimension of this term, but it isn’t offensive in any way.

I filled in a questionnaire on The Snow Grouse website and I had to mark 1 (for: not in a million years) next to the “would you buy it if it was available in your local supermarket” question. I don’t have time and health capacity to mix whisky with anything or shoot it back frozen, but there are loads of people out there who do (Amy), and they will love the product for the packaging, neutral flavour and, hopefully, the price when/if it reaches our shelves.

For now they are stuck with vodka and I go back to shovelling snow outside with my hipflask of Bowmore Darkest.

Lucas

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World Whiskies Awards Judge         Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge         Scottish Whisky Awards Judge