Winter is coming.
Hang on a sec. More like the holidays are coming. Forgive me. I got confused there for a bit as I was thinking of this whisky tied to a once-great show ruined by a pair of dumb and dumber writers. Both of these whiskies have the same concepts needing to be put in a freezer after all. (And their poor quality).
Drinkers who have only recently gotten into Scotch or got into Scotch as a result of Diageo capitalizing on a certain show’s popularity may have thought the Johnnie Walker White Walker was a completely new and genius concept. I think it’s a devious and genius idea. I guess they’re half correct as well. The feature you get out of freezing the bottle may have been the first of its kind. But the marketing of freezing a whisky is not something new. Edrington’s Snow Grouse came out in 2008 and is the earliest whisky I know of that encourages a whisky to be served straight from the freezer. Some more seasoned whisky drinkers also recommended I put Johnnie Walker Gold Label when I was new to whisk back in 2012 or 2013. The Japanese cocktail bars have been doing this for a long time as well with their main mixing spirits. The most famous example I can think of is Bar High Five in Tokyo. Ueno-san, the owner, likes to put his Bacardi’s and Tanqueray’s in a freezer.
I thought I’d make that quick quip as a lot of disappointed fans like me are still not over how that glorious show ended up being horse shit. Also, at the time of writing this, it is now winter in a lot of places. It seems like a good time to get this review out of the way. A local and generous whisk(e)y enthusiast gave this sample to me as an extra for the sample swap we made. I was slightly surprised as The Grouses aren’t that famous here. He also kept this bottle worth €15 to €23 in his freezer for so long. Also, please note that unlike the other Grouses, this is a blended grain Scotch.
Snow Grouse (room temp) – review
Color: chamomile tea.
On the nose: Very hot and peppery. There are very light scents of dried apricots, apples, vanilla, honey and mandarin oranges.
In the mouth: Still peppery but a lot lighter and the ethanol is not as hot. This is very fruity and floral. This gives off a lot of light tastes of apricots, apples, honey, cantaloupe, vanilla, toffee, peaches and caramel.
This is very offensive on the nose. This might be the worst whisky I’ve had since the Kurayoshi Sherry NAS. It gives off a strong heat which just completely obscures the scents. Thankfully, this was much more pleasant in the mouth. The flavors I get in this are reminiscent of the Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowland (but this is way better) due to the variety of very -recognizable and comforting things to taste.
Still, for a 40% abv whisky, the ethanol you will immediately smell is very unexpected and might make you think twice about drinking this.
Snow Grouse (from the freezer) – review
Color: apple juice.
On the nose: Almost completely neutral. There are very light scents of apples, toasted persimmon, dried apricots and lychee.
In the mouth: This isn’t that different from when it was at room temp. The strength at which the flavors come at you are still the same. What I tasted are almost exactly the same. Lots of light apricots, peaches, toffee, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel and persimmon.
I can see why Edrington recommends chilling this. The unpleasant ethanol on the nose gets nullified. However, the cold also nullifies the other few but pleasant scents on this.
This makes me wonder if Edrington just came up with this release so they could get rid of rejected aging grain whisky. It’s not the first time one of the big boys decided to smartly sell poor quality goods with a nice label. That’s what others speculated with the Game of Thrones single malt releases. Diageo allegedly did it with their Orphan Barrel releases as well. If you didn’t know, it is said that they’re called Orphan Barrels because they were old and aging bourbon that nobody wanted.
Image straight from the freezer – no, The Whisky Exchange. The Snow Grouse is showing as discontinued in many retailers but look around, including the deep freeze.