The whisky is named after Thomas Parr, an Englishman who was reputedly the oldest man to ever live. He was allegedly born in 1483 and died in 1635, which would have made him 152 years of age when he passed away. He was known as 'Old Parr' and his remains are buried in Westminster Abbey in London. The whisky first appeared on the market in 1909 and is now distributed to Central and South American markets (it is especially popular in Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela), plus Japan. It is packaged in a wonderfully retro brown glass bottle, which is a recreation of the original bottle from the early 20th century.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark golden amber and the nose is pleasant and full of fragrance. There are initial aromas of burnt caramel and dried fruit, especially raisin, sultana and candied orange peel. These aromas are followed by some distinct malty cereal and plenty of oaky wood spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg), plus a hint of dried grass and a whiff of distant peat smoke.
On the palate, the whisky is rich and full of impact. It is instantly malty with plenty of sweetness present. This sweetness comes in the form of honey, vanilla, cereals and caramel-like notes, which are backed up by some lovely rich dried fruits (the sultanas and raisins from the nose, plus a hint of fig). With time a powerful note of zesty orange develops, which adds some depth to the taste experience. This is backed up by a good pinch of wood/baking spice (cinnamon and nutmeg again), plus a some peat smoke that has a tobacco-like edge to it, reminsicent of cigar smoke.
The finish is full of these warming, slightly drying wood spices with some cinnamon bark particularly prominent. The bittersweet orange zesty note is also prominent and deliciously combines with the fading peat smoke. With a dash of water, the whisky becomes soft and creamy in the mouth with some increased vanilla and caramel, while the spices and smoke are knocked back a little.
What's the verdict?
This is a lovely whisky that has plenty of enjoyable characteristics. It was a whisky that we had heard good things about, but had never had the opportunity to try due to its distribution. Thankfully, we finally got to sample it at a recent Diageo event and it was worth the wait. We recommend definitely searching out Grand Old Parr when you are in any of the countries listed above ... it is just a shame that it is not available in more markets.