*Please note this post is in collaboration with The Famous Grouse Experience.*
I’ll admit, I’m not usually much of a whisky drinker. But when The Famous Grouse Experience invited me to visit their distillery and sample their chocolate taste sensation menu I didn’t hesitate. A mini road trip up through Stirlingshire and the promise of handmade chocolate desserts was just too tempting!
The Famous Grouse Experience: Distillery Tour
The Famous Grouse Experience is based in Perthshire, just outside of Creiff. It’s a relatively short drive from Edinburgh (about an hour and twenty minutes, unless you get lost like we did!) and makes a really lovely day-trip if you’re looking to get out of the city. They run guided tours at regular intervals throughout the day which you can book online before you arrive. There’s no photography allowed during the tour itself so I can’t show you exactly what goes but I would encourage you to go and see for yourself! The tour gives a fascinating insight into the process of distilling whisky, right from the grinding of the barley to the actual bottling.
I learnt so much from our tour guide, Diane. Here are a few interesting facts I didn’t know before I arrived:
The Famous Grouse Experience holds the world record for the largest bottle of whisky ever produced (you can see it in the lobby as you enter the tour!)
The Famous Grouse is the highest selling whisky brand in Scotland
In order to be called Scotch whisky, it has to have been matured on Scottish soil for at least three years
The Famous Grouse Experience: Taste Sensation Menu
After touring the distillery, we were whisked away to sample their taste sensation menu. The menu is a relatively new feature at The Famous Grouse Experience and it’s a lovely way to wrap-up your tour. There are two options available – sweet or savoury – and you get three specially developed mini-dishes paired with complimentary whiskies. We opted for the sweet menu (mainly because I’m a bit of a chocaholic!) although if I were to go back I’d be tempted to order a sweet and a savoury and share with a friend to taste the full range. The taste sensation menu costs £25 per person and you need to book at least 48 hours in advance of your visit (you can do so here if you wish!)
“I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whisky.”—H.L. Mencken
The Naked Grouse
We started with a dram of the The Naked Grouse which was paired with a chocolate cherry roulade. The Naked Grouse is quite a buttery whisky and it was delicious with the black cherry flavour and the fluffy sponge. During the tour, I learnt that it’s best to smell whisky three times. The first lets your senses adjust to the alcohol of the whisky and the second and third times you start to really pick up on all the different notes and flavours. It genuinely works! I’ve often wondered how people are able to discern all the varying tones but, turns out, this is how they do it.
The Famous Grouse Smoky Black
Next, we tried The Famous Grouse Smoky Black with a salted peanut and toffee chocolate shooter. This was my absolute favourite. I could’ve eaten this all day long! This whisky (as you might guess from the name) has a smoky, rich, spicy flavour which paired so beautifully with the rich mousse and salty peanuts. I actually might have to go back just to have this again!
Our final pairing was the Glenturret Triplewood alongside a chocolate fruit and spice tart. This one tasted just like Christmas! The whisky has notes of orange peel and cinnamon which went so beautifully with the spiced fruit of the tart. The pastry is made with malted barley which, when you taste it alongside the whisky, really heightens the flavours. I can just imagine eating this cosied up next to a log fire at Christmas time.
Feeling suitably full, we went for a walk around the shop and the grounds. It’s early autumn here so the trees were just starting to turn and there was a definite chill in the air. It really added a lovely feel to our visit. There’s something rather warming about a whisky tasting so I’d definitely recommend it as an autumn/winter excursion!
The Famous Grouse Distillery Cat
One of my favourite parts of the tour has to be the statue dedicated to the distillery’s old cat, Towser. Towser is famous for setting Guinness World Record as the Best Mouser. He supposedly caught nearly 30,000 mice during his twenty-four years at the distillery! There are two present-day distillery cats too. They love to snooze in the warm distilling rooms, although we weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them this time.
And that’s that! Thank you so much to The Famous Grouse Experience for having me along and turning me into a whisky convert – at least where chocolate is involved…! Are you a whisky drinker? Have you toured one of Scotland’s many distilleries before? Let me know in the comments!