Where to start with the Grand Old Parr? First, it’s a bottle you’d expect to remember from your grandfather’s shelf. It’s opaque brown, with scales all over it. It’s squat and multi-faceted, almost gem shaped. It brings up thoughts of gilded mirrors and wrought iron fences. You see it and think you made the score of the year, finding an antiquated bottle in a modern liquor store. Even it’s name and label bring up thoughts that this bottle would be better suited on an episode of Mad Men than next to all the modern design from Highland Park and Balblair.
Regardless, it is situated there, somewhat hard to find (though under the umbrella of the giant Diageo), and under $40. Why the name? Old Tom Parr was an Englishman who lived until the age of 152 (supposedly), didn’t marry until age 80, had an affair and sired a child at 100, and then remarried at age 122. Basically, he was strong like cask and Charles 1 had him buried in Westminster Abbey. Old Parr also comes in 15 and 18 year old age statements (which won Jim Murray’s whisky of the year and highest rating of 97/100 in 1997), though I have not seen these myself.
Color: Orange gold with a hint of yellow sun.
Legs: Slow to form, medium large, medium fast to fall.
Nose: Lots of honey. Some raisins and cinnamon. Good citrus — from orange. Fresh baked biscuits (malt).
Palate: Still sweet. Lots of malt and some tropical fruits up front, with a really nice hidden smoke that comes through midway through the taste. The smokiness isn’t too-peaty, it’s nice. A nod to what what smokier whisky brings.
Finish: The finish comes a bit quickly and is very dry, but after a beat of nothingness, a raisin-y sweetness comes back wearing a peat cape in to really finish up nicely and save the day.
Overall: This is a really nice drinker. It’s refreshing and clean. There’s no cloying aftertaste. It develops nicely, and hits many different notes — all of them well. It doesn’t blow me away, but the way this whisky bring its disparate parts together in such a harmonious and succinct way is great. It’s a little less smoke than Johnnie Black, but not in a bad way. I feel it’s a better blend. It reminds me a bit of Chivas 12, though mixed with some Glenfiddich for the raisins and some Highland Park for that type of smoke. I would totally buy this again, and would feel fine serving it to even the most discriminating drinker. Price paid: $33