Monday, January 7, 2008
A lot of whisky drinkers feel that blended whiskies are the backwash of the rest. I agree that when looking for truly unique whisky/whiskey experiences, single malts are the way to go- but sometimes I just want a reliable and tasty drink, and I want to drink it until I get drunk.
Enter: the Grand Old Parr...
Named after the "oldest" (supposedly the oldest) man to have lived in England, Thomas Parr, the Grand Old Parr was an unknown whisky for me until I got to Costa Rica. In fact, it was so unknown that for a long time I figured it to be flat out bad. That is not the case at all.
Just to give you a point of comparison, searching "Grand Old Parr" in Google results in about 20,300, searching "The Famous Grouse" results in about 74,300.
The Grand Old Parr is a 12 year blended whisky that is as good if not better than any of the other mass market blended whiskies out there. It's presentation is totally unique. It is generally sold in a gold box and always in a square brown bottle with an interesting texture on the outside. Side note: I have often thought of building a small table lamp out of the bottle.
It's flavor is much cleaner and smoother than most of it's market equivalents, but it has some unique characteristics. I have always sensed some apple and raisin undertones, and perhaps a little bit of peat. Additionally it has a crisp after taste that is very satisfying.
I have drank it neat, and with a splash, and it holds up well. The aroma is nothing too special, but again, the word "clean" comes to mind. But, forget all that, this is my heavy drinking whisky.
On ice, this whisky can satisfy you all night. It holds up well, and does not get boreing. Where you really notice it's beauty is when you run out, and have to switch to something like Johnnie Walker Black Label; there is no contest, as the Grand Old Parr stomps all over the Johnnie.
I have never seen it for sale in the United State, but I have heard that it is available in the Miami area and it is cheap. In Costa Rica it is in the same price bracket as it's other 12 year competition.
This is another Scotch distributed by the big boys at Diageo. They also carry and 15 year and an 18 year old blended (I have a bottle of 18, but have yet to break into). Diageo says it's top markets are Japan, Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela, and claims it as well known- I guess they mean in those markets.
If you see it and it fits your budget, Grand Old Parr is worth a try.
Diageo - Grand Old Parr
Wikipedia - Thomas Parr (the namesake)
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Last night a friend of a friend, Colin (who I consider a friend at this point), invited us over for a BBQ where I had my first experience with Caol Ila 18.
The 12 had been in and out of my collection a few times, but the 18 was a whole new world.
We had drank with Colin a few times before, but I had only seen him drink rum. He had a taste for some of the lesser known, but better rums of the Caribbean, so I should have known that he would carry a bold selection.
The whisky menu was impressive- Glenmorangie 10, MacAllen 12 Sherry Finish, and... the almighty Caol Ila 18. The rum, which I did not drink, was also impressive; Bacardi's Centenario, and Zacapa 15, Barbancourt 15, and he even pealed out a bottle of Zacapa Centenario XO for those that wanted an after dinner drink.
After having a couple of drinks of MacAllen, Colin told me that the Caol Ila 18 was one of his favorites. I mentioned that I had gone through a few bottles of the 12 year, but never tried the 18. He gave me a cheerful yet serious look, as if he knew that I was going to be pleased, and said, "this has the same smokiness of the 12, it is smoother and with no aftertaste."
This simple, yet accurate, description was sums it up well. I always felt that the sour aftertaste of the 12 took away from the charm of it's smokiness.
I chucked a handful of ice into my glass (sorry about the ice, but this was a heavy drinking night for me), and filled it with a shot and a half...
SMOKEY AND SMOOTH
Yes, I will say it again, smoky and smooth. It had a sweet finish that went much better with that smoky aroma. Every sip was as good or better than the previous. By my third glass, dinner was served. Jerk fish and barbecued prawns may not be the first thing that you would think to enjoy with this fine beverage, but it went great together.
I highly recommend this excellent Scotch, but buy the bottle because 2 or 3 drams are not going to be enough.
Their official website lists both a cask strength and a 25 year with notes that both sound very interesting.
Distributed by Diageo, it should be available almost everywhere.
WikiPedia Caol Ila
Caol Ila Official Site
Diageo - Caol Ila