- Producer: Jim Beam Brands, Clermont, KY
- Age: Not Stated
- Mash Bill: 60% Corn, 30% Rye, 10% Barley Malt
- Price Paid: $27.99* (price already scheduled to rise)
- Availability: Readily Available
- 114 Proof (58.5% ABV)
- ModernThirst.com’s April 2015 Bourbon of the Month
What it is:
Old Grand-Dad 114 is the younger, higher proof iteration of the Jim Beam high rye mash bill that also includes Basil Hayden’s and the standard Old Grand-Dad and Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond. Containing nearly double the rye content of the rest of the Jim Beam product line, Old Grand-Dad and its lineup are often go-to pours for those seeking a little spice in their bourbon. Incredibly, Old Grand-Dad has thus far escaped the surge on anything “different” or perceived as “value” in the recent bourbon boom, and is still readily available on shelves at insanely low prices. That’s going to end soon, however, as the good people at Jim Beam have realized their mistake and are releasing new, more up-scale packaging and raising prices accordingly. So stock up now if OGD is your thing.
Recently, we had the good fortune to tour the Jim Beam American Stillhouse and have dinner with Master Distiller and Great-Great Grandson of Jim Beam, Fred Noe. The topic eventually turned towards the higher rye mash bill at beam and their future plans for it. I asked Fred if there were any plans to play around with the mash bill, maybe release a higher proof Basil Hayden or a longer aged Old Grand-Dad. Fred laughed, like I had some inside info on something he didn’t think I should know (I didn’t, but I think it’s a question on the minds of many fans of this recipe). Fred said he’d just recently spoken with their head of inventory and asked if there was anything different or interesting in the warehouses they could do something with, and was told there were a few select barrels of extra-aged Old Grand-Dad/Basil Hayden in the warehouses they could use. This naturally piqued my interest quite a bit. Fred was clear that it would be a one-time, very limited type of release, no matter what they did, but that they hadn’t finalized any plans for the barrels yet. We can only hope.
On to the tasting of Old Grand-Dad 114.
This one is a unique bottle. It’s short, round, and wide-mouthed at the neck with a huge oversized cork similar to Elijah Craig. the label isn’t the nicest of things….foil printed. But it’s a very inexpensive bourbon for such high proof, so this generally isn’t going to be a show-piece on your bourbon bar. It’s there for drinking. Again, Jim beam is updating the packaging of all of the Old Grand-Dad line, so expect a fresh look soon…with fresh prices.
Medium Amber. I expected this to be slightly darker than it is, but that may be due to age and rye content. I can’t say.
Black pepper jumps out of the Glencairn, tingling the senses. It’s followed by light citrus wisps of pineapple, and Orange Zest with simple syrup and vanilla peaking through as well.
Pepper, pepper, pepper. The rye is the star of the show here. It’s front and center, and makes this taste almost like a rye whiskey rather than a bourbon. But some citrus manages to make an appearance, followed by oak, vanilla, cranberry and light orange or tangerine.
Medium to short in length, the Jim Beam profile makes itself known quickly. There is a certain Jim beam “flavor” to most of their products. I’ve heard it called “yeasty,” “cardboard,” and a host of other names, but it’s a defining characteristic of the beam profile, likely owing to the yeast strains they use. Those familiar with Beam products will know it, and probably have their own term for it. Regardless, if you like Beam, you’ll like this finish.
Old Grand-Dad is a favorite amongst bourbon drinkers who like high proof, high spice, and low cost. Makes sense to me. It’s a very unique product in the Jim Beam catalogue, and easy to find at nearly any decently-stocked bourbon section of a liquor store. For me, the only major weaknesses are that the finish is surprisingly short for such a high proof, high rye bourbon, and the Beam flavor becomes nearly overpowering at the tail end. It’s a good sip right up to the swallow, then it falls apart. A little more age might serve to insert a bit more barrel flavor to the drink, and tame that yeast. Regardless, at this price it’s a great option for any bourbon shelf. If the price rises, you’ll have to make a decision. There are several other higher-proof bourbons in the beam range that are, to be honest, better drinkers. They include Bookers, Bakers, and especially Knob Creek single barrel.
ModernThirst.com score: 86 out of 100.