Naked Grouse Scotch Debuts in Minneapolis

Eric Faust / Heavy Table
Eric Faust / Heavy Table

The persistence, patience, and time that it takes to develop a Scotch makes it rare that a new Scotch is put on the shelf. After two years of development, The Edrington Group, the largest independent Scotch company in Scotland, has released Naked Grouse — a blended Scotch — that made its US premiere last month in Minneapolis.

The Edrington Group is adding the Naked Grouse to a line of scotches that includes Famous Grouse, Macallan, Cutty Sark, and Highland Park. Andrew Barnett, the brand manager for Naked Grouse, says: “Naked Grouse is like Famous Grouse with the volume turned up to 11.” Using Highland Park and Macallan, The Edrington Group has aimed for the creation of a blended scotch that can compete with Johnny Walker Black, the second tier of the Johnny Walker line of blended Scotches.

Current Master Blender John Ramsay worked with apprentice Master Blender Gordon Motion to develop Naked Grouse. This is the final project for Ramsay as he plans to retire towards the end of this year. Using the Famous Grouse blend (Scotland’s number one-selling Scotch blend by volume) as a base, Ramsay and Motion worked to create a Scotch that could be ordered neat, on the rocks, and also in a drink.

Ramsay and Motion used single malts by Macallan and Highland Park as main elements of the blend and used grain whiskey to help round and balance the taste. The various parts of the Scotch are aged individually and then brought together and matured for an unspecified period. Naked Grouse deviates most significantly from Famous Grouse because of the type of barrels used. Barnett says: “60 or 70 percent of the flavor in Scotch is from the wood.” Famous Grouse uses American oak bourbon casks, while Naked Grouse uses European oak sherry casks from Spain. The European oak was chosen due to its more open grain, allowing for the more winey characteristics from the barrel to be carried over into the Scotch.

Ordered neat, the Naked Grouse has notes of chocolate, caramel, and wine with a hint of peat that comes from the Highland Park. It is balanced with minimal heat and a round smooth body. On the rocks the Scotch mellows, making it more refreshing and revealing a sweeter wine taste. The balance and relative lack of peat helps the Scotch carry well in mixed drinks. For the unseasoned Scotch drinker, a smear of orange on the edge of the glass makes it a more approachable spirit.

Minneapolis is currently the only city in the US with establishments selling Naked Grouse — more than 20 bars in the downtown area carry it. The price varies in liquor stores, with most pricing the Scotch around $33 a bottle. For The Edrington Group, Minneapolis is the test for Naked Grouse. If it does well, the rest of the US will get a chance to taste what Minneapolis has been drinking.


  1. Roo Head

    I can’t believe this is a scotch! It is so smooooooooth. Saw the billboard and then got to try it at hell’s kitchen. I normally drink bourbons and irish whiskies and THIS stuff is the REAL DEAL…..well done!

  2. Joshua

    I bought two bottles after a sampling at the Stone Arch Art Festival. I’m hooked! Scotch is my preferred drink, but I usually go for single malts and peatier drinks. I went into this one thinking I wouldn’t like it – boy was I wrong!

    I incredibly easy to drink…(almost too easy as I’m a little fuzzy right now) At first the sweetness and texture reminded me a little too much like a brandy. I usually never put ice in my scotch but I thought, why not? That thinned out the syrup feel to where it was perfect. The finish is absolutely incredible. It doesn’t have a harsh after taste at all. The finish is a smooth blend of burnt chocolate, strawberries?, and pure awesomeness. It is DEFINATELY superior to Johnny Black. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be buying Black again if I have the choice to buy Naked Grouse.

  3. Andrew (from Naked Grouse)

    Gemma, this is still a Minneapolis exclusive. Only available in Harrods and a small number of bars in the UK.

  4. Josh Holly

    I am very impressed with this scotch. Bought two bottles already and had never bought scotch prior to this.

  5. Paul from Tall Timber

    My wife and I tried Naked Grouse at a wine tasting, we’re hooked. I look forward to a Elk hunt camp fire with this and couple of good old friends. Can we keep this to Mpls. for awhile?

  6. Eileen from Minneapolis

    Andrew – you can add another venue to your website listing locations in Minneapolis for sampling this wonderful blend:
    Merlin’s Rest | 3601 E. Lake St., Minneapolis | 612 216 2419

  7. Wayne

    My favorite scotch of all time, but the liquor store I used to get it from no longer carries it. Where in Minneapolis or surrounding areas can I buy it off sale?

  8. Anders

    You might be able to get a liquor store to order it.
    South Lyndale Liquors lists it as being out of stock, but orderable on their website. Could try them?

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