I have never tried Old Grand-Dad until tonight. I really can’t explain why. This was a bourbon that never struck my fancy. Not in college, not as a struggling young lawyer, and for some reason not until now even though I buy just about every high proof release I can get my hands on. I think I haven’t tried Old Grand-Dad for a lot of the same reasons I hadn’t tried Basil Hayden’s until last year. Basil Hayden is the Old Grand-Dad, literally. Old Grand-Dad was named in his honor, and both bourbons use the same high rye recipe, and his likeness adorns this bottle.
This 114 proof bourbon is made by Jim Beam but was a stand alone distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky until it was bought by Beam in the 1980’s. While no distilling happens there barrel aging and bottling still do.
Color is a light amber but not quite straw colored. This bourbon used to have a six year age statement but this clearly is not that now based on the color. But given that it is non-aged stated but has the straight bourbon moniker, this whiskey is at least four years old. On the swirl is thinnish oily legs with some thicker ones. Clearly this whiskey could have used a little more age. But that’s just appearance.
On the nose, heavy cloves and brown sugars, anise, and herbs show off the high rye mashbill. Quite a complex nose. On the palate, this whiskey has a medium mouthfeel much like Baker’s. On the palate, brown sugar, herbs, and honey roasted peanuts followed by cloves and cinnamon that seem to linger forever on the finish. I am missing oak and leather notes that would make this bourbon truly amazing, but given that this bourbon is four to six years old, I am asking more of this bourbon than it can give.
So, I would say I am a little disappointed in this bourbon. It really doesn’t stack up to Booker’s or Knob Creek Single Barrel.
But I can’t really say that. Because this is a readily available $30 a bottle close to the bottom shelf bourbon. With a real cork. While Knob Creek and Booker’s have plastic corks.
In my world, $30 a bottle bourbon is going in a cocktail. It’s not a bourbon I contemplate in a tasting glass.
But you should try this neat in a tasting glass. It’s delicious, flavorful, and complex. And it’s $30.