The top seed, J&B, crashes out in the semi's to Grant's Sherry Cask while the Black Grouse makes another open and shut case, dropping the gavel on Grant's Family Reserve.
Vote 5-1: Winner Grant's Sherry Cask
As we approach the end of the Battle of the Blends there is little new insight our panel of reviewers can add to the existing and voluminous tasting notes. At this stage we have tasted each competitor at least 3 times and so the reviewers were more prone to exclaim their impressions about the character of the dram rather than provide tasting notes as in previous rounds.
Looking back over the bracket and the battlefield of bottles amid a patchwork of LCBO receipts, it is time to reflect on the three guiding criteria for competition: to find the most enjoyable blended Scotch available in the LCBO suitable for personal consumption at home, flasking, and offering to both seasoned whisky drinkers and whisky-curious guests alike. With this noble quest in mind we ventured once more into the fray.....
After the blind pour of Grant's Sherry Cask, there was considerable praise. All agreed that although Grant's Sherry Cask has a bit of heat associated on both the nose and the finish, the delicate sweetness of the dram would lend it to being best enjoyed as a dessert drink. Moreover, none of us had any major qualms with drinking it at home, in a flask, or serving it to guests without feeling embarrassed or offering a splash of cola to help 'er down.
As the glasses of J&B were passed around to the reviewers, nearly all in attendance expressed their dislike of the potent nose. As mentioned in earlier reviews, the medicinal sweetness commingled with a muddled sourness has acted to the dram's detriment in previous battles, yet the richness of the sweet malt flavour on the palate with accents of peat and smoke arriving in the finish have, to date, helped it remain in the running. Reviewers agreed that J&B had a richer texture and depth of flavour than its competitor however the whisky simply doesn't meet our criteria. One reviewer stated that the aroma was so offensive that you could only really flask it, thus rendering it thoroughly unsuitable to serve to guests.
With that statement and, of course, the vote we knew that J&B had failed to meet our essential objectives and Grant's Sherry Cask now moves on to the final bracket.
Vote: 7-0: Winner Black Grouse
Since the inception of this blog, Grant's Family Reserve has been the table whisky of choice. The price point matches what you get in the bottle: an inoffensive whisky that is appropriate for drinking on the go or for introducing someone to scotch. One reviewer commented that it would make a good nightcap after a night out. We have all agreed that it has done its job well for us as our go-to blend and may still make an appearance in our flasks or as a table whisky but it just doesn't stand up when compared to the Black Grouse.
What separates the Black Grouse from the pack is that it tastes more like a single malt scotch over a blend of barley and other grain whiskies. For only a few dollars more than the Grant's, you'll end up with a blended whisky that is more refined and that provides peat instead of heat. When on the road with the Black Grouse flasked, as a table whisky in place of a single malt or even to introduce someone to scotch, you can't go wrong with this blend.
We were expecting this battle to be much closer than it was but there ended up being no contest. The Black Grouse moves to the finals and, at the rate it's going, it may prove impossible to beat.