Having qualified for his green number by running 10 Comrades ultra-marathons it is obvious that Dave Hughes is a man for the long haul. Passionate about whisky, he trained as a distiller and has only happy memories of the time spent learning the trade in Scotland. A member of the Worshipful Society of Distillers, an august body formed in 1638 to protect the distillation of spirits in London – Hughes also boasts the title of Freeman of the City of London, a rare honour bestowed on him for his services to the development of the wine and spirit industry.

Joining Hughes in this month’s tasting were the Whisky Magazine team, along with guest taster Candice Baker of The Really Great Brand Company who brought along a bottle of Black Grouse blended whisky for a change of pace from the single malts. And an interesting choice too, since Glen- rothes is one of the many whiskies which is used in the making of the black bird’s more well-known sister or brother – the Famous Grouse!

black grouse whisky south africa tastingsThe Black Grouse blended scotch whisky
Pale, bright gold. Big, smoky, malty nose with brown sugar trim. Smoke and peat give pronounced Western Isle character while malty notes are decidedly mainland. Beautifully integrated. Rich and flavoursome in the mouth while simultaneously being incredibly smooth and “light”. Definitely not light in flavour… Everything the nose promised is there with addition of rich dark chocolate. Super touch of spice with the smoky twist all the way through. Silky smooth across the palate. Long, “sweetish” impression in well flavoured finish and again that twist of smoky peat in the background. A lovely dram!

Novices: Whisky writer Clifford Roberts loved the smoke and peat, describing it as reminiscent of a veld fire. Megan and Shayne both commented on the obvious peat and musky aromas and flavour. “Coal tar soap followed by toasted almonds,” was Fiona’s pronouncement.