Grand Old Parr isn’t a brand that we’ve seen a lot of stateside and nothing, until recently, beyond the flagship 12 year old blend. Its substantial popularity in Latin America inspired Diageo to bring more of the stuff north to our fair shores earlier this year, including this bottle, the portfolio’s venerable 18-year-old offering. Per the distillery, this blend is comprised of, among other things, “the rarest and most characterful malts from Cragganmore.” Which, well, is kind of a big deal because you almost never get that kind of transparency about a blend, however limited, especially not from a whisky powerhouse like Diageo. The younger Old Parr is a fine enough blend, but let’s see what the older Old Parr has to offer, shall we?
The nose is noticeably less sweet than the younger expression with bigger, nuttier malt notes (perhaps the Cragganmore at work). There’s still a nice sweetness, however, with dark honey and subtle vanilla custard. As things open up, a note of weak black tea with a twist of lemon develops. The palate is light with mildly sweet and somewhat gritty cereal notes that turn more to roasted nuts in the mid-palate. The grain component presents itself more heading into the finish with a sweet, thin vanilla note and some muted baking spice. Like its younger sibling, there’s nothing earth shattering or complex about this one, despite its moniker. The conclusion, a medium-length touch of smoke and dried red fruits, retreats as gently as it arrived. A perfectly serviceable and straightforward blend, but the 12-year-old is a better value with perhaps a bit more to offer.