While Scotland has over 120 distilleries, The Famous Grouse claims to be the country’s favorite. Whether that’s true or not, the brand has certainly made its mark around the world — becoming a household name not just in Scotland, but globally.
Though The Famous Grouse has been making Scotch for centuries, there’s always more to learn about the classic brand. Read on to learn more about The Famous Grouse.
The story starts with a grocer.
Before beginning The Famous Grouse, the Gloag family owned a grocery store. The story began in 1800, when a grocer named John Brown set up shop in Perth, Scotland. His daughter Margaret had the idea to obtain a liquor license, and when she later married Matthew Gloag, they inherited the store and changed its name to Matthew Gloag & Sons. Soon, the business had shifted toward primarily selling wine.
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It was all about family.
The business was passed down within the Gloag family for generations, changing hands from Matthew to his son William, and later, his grandson Matthew Gloag III. It wasn’t until 1896, when Matthew III took over, that the family business began making its first blended Scotch whisky.
It wasn’t always famous.
Matthew first created The Famous Grouse brand in 1896. Back then, however, The Famous Grouse was just named “The Grouse.” As the brand gained popularity and was enjoyed by more and more consumers, Matthew began referring to the Scotch as “famous.” He changed the name officially in 1905.
It won’t break the bank.
Though some Scotch whisky can be known to empty your wallet, The Famous Grouse is an affordable option, even making its way onto VinePair’s list of the best Scotch whiskies under $25. While some of its barrel-aged offerings go for $33 to $35, its classic Famous Grouse is a steal at only $18.
It has some American inspiration.
Though The Famous Grouse is proudly Scottish, the brand has taken a page from Kentucky’s book, aging one of its Scotch varieties in American oak and bourbon casks. The result is a Scotch with the sweet, honeyed flavors of some of America’s favorite whiskey.
It’s all about blends.
Scotch lovers know that the spirit comes in two main categories: single-malt and blended. While blended Scotch is made from a combination of barrel-aged malt whisky and grain whisky, single-malt Scotch is the product of a single distillery. The Famous Grouse is known for the former, as all five of its varieties are blended.
Birds of a feather flock together.
The Famous Grouse may be unique in flavor, but it’s just one of many whiskey brands named after a bird. Along with competitors like Wild Turkey, Redbreast, Chicken Cock, Kentucky Owl, Fighting Cock, and Old Crow, Famous Grouse utilizes a bird in both its name and logo. Why? Who’s to say? Though we at VinePair would venture to guess that these old-school brands chose winged animals to symbolize freedom, perhaps the Gloag clan simply had a thing for birds.
It may be the secret to a long life.
In 2018, Grace Jones, a 112-year-old resident of Broadway, England, was announced as the oldest person in Britain. Jones became an overnight sensation when she swore that her secret to a long life was a “nightly tot” of whisky. Her brand of choice? Famous Grouse.