Whilst wandering the aisles of our local Waitrose on Monday, DTS & I scanned the whisky section for new and interesting additions. There weren’t too many new faces, but one of the exceptions – and rather appropriately timed, given last week’s post – was The Famous Jubilee.
It was sitting in its Jubilee celebration themed box, but was both next and nearly identically priced to The Famous Grouse, so both of us initially assumed that it was simply a special packaging. Fortunately for me, DTS is naturally curious about such things and took a closer look, after which we realised that it was actually a special blend.
Matthew Gloag & Son, the company behind the Grouse brand, have the Royal Warrant to HM the Queen for blended Scotch, so it’s understandable that they have created a blend especially to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee this month. The Famous Jubilee is a blend of malt and grain whiskies, including some from Highland Park and Macallan. It’s available exclusively via Waitrose and, should you want to get yourself a bottle, be aware that Sainsbury’s are selling The Famous Grouse in a special Jubilee box that looks very much like the one for The Famous Jubilee, but without the new blend inside; make sure you’re buying the one you’re after!
Without further ado, here are my notes on this new, celebratory whisky and a few cocktails that DTS & I thought would be particularly fitting.
On its own
Nose: A distinctive, golden syrupy sweetness introduces you to this lovely nose. Before it gets too sickly, this fades into oats, then drier grain, before finishing with an incredibly light smokiness. Compared to the nose of The Famous Grouse, this is a lot sweeter, more mellow, and less nutty, making it both more accessible and warmer than the standard blend.
Taste: Good, strong, savoury flavours: hints of malt dominate on the tongue, whilst drier grain notes were more evident at the back of the mouth. A savoury whisky, indeed; somewhat reminiscent of The Naked Grouse, but richer and warmer.
With a drop of water…
Nose: It’s amazing how much of a difference a drop of water can make! The nose is now much busier, with warm spices making that initial sweetness more interesting.
Taste: Much sweeter, but still with a dry, savoury finish, this was generally less harsh, with a slowly building, comforting warmth. Occasionally I got odd hints of dry cocoa and charred wood on the finish.
Jubilee Whisky Royale
Add a serving of Famous Jubilee and a good dash of apple juice to a glass of ice, then top up with ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of green apple or a fresh raspberry.
Although there’s not much going on the nose of this drink, it’s absolutely delicious to sip: the splash of apple juice instantly sweetens and lifts the savoury whisky and dry ginger ale, but without covering up the malt and grain of the whisky. Perfect to serve at a Jubilee celebration.
Take equal parts of the whisky and red vermouth (using any appropriately-sized measure) and shake or stir briskly with ice. Fine strain into your glass.
The red vermouth dominated the nose, with lots of rich, spicy notes. This came through strongly on the taste, too, producing a rich, flavourful drink with lots to spice to start, followed by a more bitter finish. This won’t be for everyone, but, if you like rich, bitter drinks, it could be the one for you.
60 Year Cocktail
[50ml Famous Jubilee 25ml King’s Ginger liqueur 150ml Soda Water]
The nose is distinctly of sherbet lemons, but any fears that this drink would be overly sweet were quicky debunked; this drink is refreshing and savoury, taking the dryer elements of the whisky and the ginger, freshening everything up with some bitter lemon notes, and throwing the very faintest hint of sweetness right before the finish kicks in. The whisky also adds a comforting, but not excessive, warmth to the end of this cocktail. A lovely, refreshing long drink for those less fond of sweet cocktails, and/or who like the grain notes in the whisky.
I was impressed by The Famous Jubilee, which I found to be both accessible for those who don’t normally drink Scotch and interesting for those who do. Smooth and spicy malt to taste, with a sweet nose and a dry, grain finish, I thought that it was at its best on its own in a glass (maybe with a drop or two of water) and left to warm up for a few minutes, but it also worked well in an array of cocktails; my favourite of these was the bubbly Whisky Royale.
Although Famous Jubilee, exclusively available from Waitrose, has a reasonable RRP at £24.99, we found The Jubilee Grouse currently on offer for £20.99.
– Mrs. B