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The Famous Grouse

The most popular whisky in Scotland, Famous Grouse has had a very successful 10 years largely thanks to the owners Erdington group who invested in innovation and marketing to see their portfolio sales grow across the world. The innovation has included the Black Grouse with a little more peat and the White Grouse aimed at making scotch whisky a summer aperitif. However, the marketing department must take much of the credit for strong sales growth with the latest marketing ploy sponsoring the largest ever whisky bottle which secured national media coverage.

The strong marketing has led to a sharp rise in profits for the Erdington Group who own Famous Grouse, the Erdington Group is owned by its shareholders who are also their employees and a charitable trust set up to support Scottish causes.  Is there a better cause than Scotch whisky? Turnover for the 1st 6 months of 2012 was almost £300 million with rises in Asia, the USA and emerging markets; it is only on Europe where sales have been relatively flat.  Profits (pre-tax) were up a whopping 21% which the premium single malts and even growth for Cutty Sark in the US have contributed.

Erdington also own famous brands such as Macallan scotch whisky, Cutty Sark scotch whisky, Highland Park scotch whisky and Brugal rum.

Giant whisky bottle competition

The whisky marketing men have been having a field day over the last few years trying to ‘out market’ each other with massive whisky bottles.  The latest to break the record for the world’s largest whisky bottle has been Famous Grouse scotch whisky that have just entered the Guinness book of records with a 228 litre whisky bottle which contains 9120 drams of scotch whisky.  The enormous bottle of Grouse will be on display at Glenturret Distillery in Perthshire which is the home of Famous Grouse whisky.

The 5t feet and 5 inches high bottle was manufactured in the Czech Republic and takes the record from Jack Daniels which entered the Guinness Book of Records just a year before with a 184 litre bottle of the favourite American whisky.  There is also the world’s largest bottle of single malt scotch whisky which is now held at the Scottish Whisky Experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and contains 105 litres of 14 year old Tomintoul single malt whisky. This bottle is the most expensive of the big whisky bottle competition valued at over £5000. It was the brain child of Hoteliers in the tiny Scottish town of Tomintoul who believed the town was in need of tourist boost and laid the marketing idea out to the local whisky barons. As it was a win all round idea, everyone got behind it and the massive bottle of Tomintoul 14 year old single malt scotch whisky was born.

Malt Whisky Master

At the family owned William Grant & Sons they have a malt master and master blender by the name of David Stewart who recently gave an enlightening interview to the Guardian Newspaper. This gave us a little insight into the job that all of us would like to have, not an easy job to get with only about 12 in Scotland.

David left school at the age of 17 in 1962 with just 5 O-levels and was told in no uncertain terms by his parents to go and get a job. He promptly got 3 interviews one with and Insurance Company, one at a bank and one at William Grant & Sons.  He was offered all three (a scenario school leavers now can only dream of) and chose to go and work in the world of whisky. His boss was the master blender and after 2 years clerical work his boss took him under his wing to learn the art of ‘nosing’ whisky.  David quickly learnt what to smell for in the whisky, what should be there and more importantly what shouldn’t. David quickly identified that to ‘nose’ the whisky was going to be the most difficult part of the job and it took 12 years before David could prepare a blended whisky. By the time David was 29 he had taken over as the malt master at William Grant & Sons after his boss left the company.  With William Grant owning such famous whisky as Glenfiddich, Grant’s and Balvenie this was a great honour and he has taken it forward with gusto since.

David spends 90 minutes per working day nosing whisky both from single malt casks and for blends.  He also travels promoting whisky internationally and spending time in meetings talking about whisky.  Oh it is a hard life David.