Posts tagged ‘Old Grand-Dad’

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon Review

old grand dad 114Well, Scotchvember is over at Bargain Bourbon, and repeal week is here.  With December 5th right around the corner, I am reviewing a bourbon I have wanted to review for a long time, a throwback bourbon to an older time.  It is one of those bourbons that tempts you from the bottom shelf at the liquor store, with its reputation for wild nights and the big numbers “114” across the black box.  Old Grand-Dad 114 has no age statement, but I suspect it is about 7 years old or so.  Like the standard orange bottles of Old Grand-Dad, this whiskey comes from Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill, (the same juice that comprises Basil Hayden’s with a lot more alcohol).  As the name indicates, Old Grand-Dad 114 is bottled at 57% abv/114 proof, and pays homage to Basil Hayden, Sr., whose portrait still graces the Old Grand-Dad bottle.

The first thing you’ll notice after pouring this bourbon is its rich, dark mahogany in the glass.  There are also some orangish hues to the bourbon, giving it a truly beautiful appearance.  From the moment you dip your nose into this bourbon, it is a heavy hitter. There is a lot of cinnamon, brown sugar, rye heat, sawdust, fresh oranges, dried tea leaves, and potpourri.  There is definitely a dense sweetness to it, but the rye influence is palpable from the get-go.  The palate is big, full-bodied and continues right along with the nose.  Notes of corn bread, caramel, tangerine, orange cream, cinnamon, and berry fruits are all present on the palate.  The finish is long and warming, with caramel, sawdust, red hot cinnamon, and some tannic bite.  This whiskey definitely benefits from time in the bottle and time in the glass.  The first pour out of the bottle was hot and rough, but as the bottle opens up, this bourbon becomes something very enjoyable.

Overall, I am big fan of this bourbon, especially for the price.  It reminds of the great deal that is Wild Turkey 101.  It is not really a bourbon for everybody, especially if you are new to bourbon.  On the other hand, if you are a bourbon fan who needs a solid cabinet staple this winter, look no further than Old Grand-Dad 114.  This is by no means the best thing at your liquor store, but it shines brightly at its price point, for sure.  After all, any bourbon good enough for George Thorogood is good enough for me.  My grade: B/B-.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  For under $30 and 114 proof, this is really a hard bourbon to beat.

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The Ideal Value Liquor Cabinet (Autumn Edition)

Well, autumn is upon us, and it is time to start planning your fall liquor cabinet.  Quite frankly, fall is one of my favorite seasons to drink great value whiskey.  As with my summer edition of the ideal liquor cabinet, I think a quality liquor cabinet should have variety, and it should have a few key components.  Building a quality liquor cabinet is like building a house; once you have a foundation down, you can go anywhere.  Of course, like anything pertaining to whiskey, it all depends on your palate.  Since my palate varies depending on the season (and sometimes the day), the possibilities for an ideal liquor cabinet are endless.  For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on an awesome fall liquor cabinet on a budget.

You should have a solid staple.  My summer suggestion for a great staple was Buffalo Trace, and I will stand by that whiskey as the leaves begin to change.  https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/03/31/buffalo-trace-review/

You should have a solid seasonal whiskey.  Since fall is such a great time to enjoy whiskey, there are many options for my favorite fall seasonal whiskey.  For the money, I think the best option is Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond.  It is spicy and sweet, like good pumpkin pie.  Plus, it is a great value buy.  https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/07/28/rittenhouse-rye-review/

You should have a mixer.  Not everybody that comes over to your house for dinner will want their whiskey straight up, so it is important to have something in the cabinet that you don’t mind seeing go into an Old-Fashioned, Mint Julep, Manhattan, etc.  For fall, I recommend Old Grand-Dad Bonded.  It is a fine whiskey that I enjoy sipping straight, and it has a nice rye zip for a cocktail.  However, it costs under $20, and it is not the best whiskey in the cabinet, so I don’t mind if somebody throws a splash or two in a cocktail.  https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/17/old-grand-dad-bonded-review/

If I had a little money left over, I would probably go for a couple of my favorite bottles of whiskey that fit the season well.  These are the ones that come out on special occasions and will last me into December.  If I were me (with a little extra dough), I would get a bottle of Aberlour A’Bunadh and a bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask.  I have yet to review either one of these whiskys, but they are both fantastic Scotches around $60 a bottle.  The Aberlour is sweet, full, lightly floral, and oaky.  The Laphroaig Quarter Cask is a lot like the 10 yr. (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/25/laphroaig-10-year-review/), but the former has more complexity, more balance, and a bigger influence from the cask.  Don’t worry, though, it still has monstrous helpings of peat and smoke.  As my rooomate, Chris Broadwell, says “If you can’t go camping this fall, drink Laphroaig.”

Those are my thoughts on the ideal autumn liquor cabinet.  What whiskeys did I leave out?  Which ones did I get right?  What does your autumn liquor cabinet look like?

My Favorite Whiskeys by Price Point

I am often asked, “What’s your favorite whiskey?”  Honestly, that is like asking me to name a favorite child, favorite beer, favorite song, or favorite movie.  I have many favorites, and many of these depend on my mood, and the money in my wallet.  However, I have recently had a request from my good friend, Kate at http://www.kateampersand.com/ for some recommendations for how to give the gift of whiskey.  I have reviewed about 40 whiskeys on the site so far, and here are my favorite whiskeys out of those 40 at different price points.  The prices used are the approximate prices for 750ml of the whiskey.

Best Whiskey under $20:  Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/17/old-grand-dad-bonded-review/).  This is a very good, rye forward bourbon, with a lot of power.  It doesn’t have the complexity of some other high rye bourbons, but it is hard to beat for $18 a bottle.

Runner-up under $20:  Four Roses Yellow Label (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/03/14/four-roses-yellow-label-review/).  In comparison to the power of Old Grand-Dad (bottled at 100 proof), the Yellow Label is a delicate rye-forward bourbon.  There is a lot of light spice that tingles the tongue and the nostrils, but it doesn’t quite have the depth of Old Grand-Dad.  Nevertheless, Four Roses Yellow Label is a great buy.

Best Whiskey under $25:  Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/07/28/rittenhouse-rye-review/).  Not only is this whiskey a great value, it is a great whiskey.  There is a ton of complexity, ranging from spiciness to sweetness to a rich earthiness.  If you want to impress somebody, buy them this whiskey for their birthday.  Trust me, they will think you spent a good amount on it (especially if you put it in a fancy decanter since the bottle design is not especially flattering).

Runner-up Under $25:  McClelland’s Speyside (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/07/30/comparison-review-scotch-styles-mcclellands-speyside-vs-mcclellands-lowland/).  This is a fine single-malt Scotch for the price.  It has all the delicacy of a Speyside, with the craft necessary to give it some soft chocolate and smoke flavors that give it character.  (It should be mentioned that if you can find Wild Turkey 101, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare 10 yr. Single Barrel, or Jim Beam Devil’s Cut for under $25, they are even better.  However, I live in Boston where I am not quite so lucky.)

Best Whiskey under $30:  Rittenhouse Rye Bottled-in-Bond.  It still reigns supreme; it’s just that good.

Runner-up under $30:  Buffalo Trace (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/03/31/buffalo-trace-review/).  It is the bourbon that turned me on to bourbon a number of years ago, and it continues to impress.  It is not overly sweet, leaving the vanilla to be blended perfectly.  It is like eating a perfectly balanced cheesecake (sort of).

Best Whiskey under $35:  Russell’s Reserve 10 yr (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/07/12/russells-reserve-10-year-bourbon-review/).  Finally, Rittenhouse was dethroned.  Every time I drink Russell’s Reserve, I am amazed at how wonderfully structured it is.  It is like reading a great novel, where the plot unfolds precisely when it should.

Runner-up under $35:  W.L. Weller 12 yr (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/28/w-l-weller-12-year-review/).  This is exactly what a wheated bourbon can achieve.  It is sweet, but complex, demonstrating the many phases of a sweetness.  It reminds me of eating buttermilk pancakes smothered in cinnamon sugar and maple syrup (except not as filling).

Best Whiskey under $40:  Four Roses Single Barrel (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/14/four-roses-single-barrel-review/).  Although this is a single barrel whiskey (meaning there will be some difference between batches), I’ve never had a bad batch of this whiskey.  It is plainly brilliant.  It has the all the spicy rye character of Four Roses Small Batch, but it demonstrates a whole other layer of complexity with a sweet, dark palate.

Runner-up under $40:  Russell’s Reserve 10 yr.  It has rightly remained high on my list even at a higher price point.

Best Whiskey under $50:  Bunnahabhain 12 yr (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/08/22/bunnahabhain-12-year-review/).  This is really a brilliant Islay whisky.  The sherry influence is strong, but the Islay peat hangs around to provide a perfect balance.  Although this is not a traditional Islay whisky, it is my favorite value.

Runner-up under $50:  Four Roses Single Barrel.  Yes, it can compete with whiskeys that reach above its price point.

Best Whiskey under $60:  Booker’s Small Batch Bourbon (https://bargainbourbon.com/2012/06/21/comparison-review-bookers-vs-noahs-mill/).  This is my favorite whiskey to date, and it should only be given to a true whiskey lover who you love very much.  It is a full, robust whiskey, providing a complexity and intensity rarely seen elsewhere in the bourbon world under $60.  (I have seen Booker’s for as cheap as $47.  If you see it around that price, snatch up a bottle.)

Runner-up under $60:  Bunnahabhain 12 yr.  As many of you are aware, Scotch is expensive.  However, I have yet to find a better value among Single Malt Scotch than Bunnahabhain.

I am stopping at $60, because most people that read this blog are seeking value bourbons.  If you like some recommendations for higher price ranges, feel free to email me at thedagupeir@gmail.com.  I would also recommend that you read the reviews of these whiskeys before purchasing them, just to make sure it sounds like something that will truly be enjoyed by whoever is its lucky recipient.  Let it ride!

Old Grand-Dad Bonded Review

I have been searching for this bourbon for a while now, and I finally got a hold of a bottle of Old Grand-Dad Bonded.  Most people are familiar with Old Grand-Dad, mostly because of its shout-out in George Thorogood’s “I Drink Alone.”  The standard Old Grand-Dad offering is bottled at 86 proof, but it is offered at several different proof points.  Today, I am reviewing the 100 proof Bottled-in-Bond edition of Old Grand-Dad.

Today, the Old Grand-Dad Distillery is owned by Jim Beam, which makes the other namesake bourbon of the old granddad of bourbon, Basil Hayden.  For those who have asked me about it, Basil Hayden is the man pictured on the label of Old Grand-Dad.  Like Basil Hayden’s, Old Grand-Dad is manufactured with Basil Hayden’s signature high-rye mash bill.

On the nose, Old Grand-Dad Bonded is spicy and citrusy.  There are notes of wood and rye spices, backed up with a big corn sweetness and dried orange peels and lemon peels.  In my opinion, the rest of the bourbon is a bit too controlled by the prickly rye spices.  The palate has notes of the charred barrel, chili powder, black pepper, and some corniness.  The finish is hot and spicy, with the same notes of char, chili powder, and black pepper.  However, the finish does become more complex with notes of cocoa dust and roasted corn that keep it going for a long time.

Overall, Old Grand-Dad is a solid bourbon, especially if you like a robust, spicy rye-character.  I am not a big fan of the rye bourbons, so it is not my favorite.  I definitely prefer Wild Turkey 101 to Old Grand-Dad if all other factors were equal.  However, at $20 a bottle, it is pretty hard to find a better bourbon than Old Grand-Dad Bonded.  My grade: C.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a nice mixing whiskey, especially when blended with other bourbons.

The Top Ten Historical People to Drink Bourbon with

Have you ever been reading a history book, and thought, “I’d like to have a drink with that person?”  As a historian and avid bourbon drinker, this happens to me often.  So, here are the ten people I would most like to have a few glasses of bourbon with.  Obviously, this is an anachronistic list because bourbon whiskey as we know and love it did not originate until the 18th century, and it was not made official by Congress until 1964.  The only qualifications for this list are that the person had to have lived at some point, and that person must have lived most of their life prior to 1900 (a list of more contemporary bourbon companions is in the works).

10. Mithridates VI of Pontus (Mithridates the Great) (134 BCE-63 BCE)  – Mithridates was arguably Rome’s greatest enemy.  He spent most of his adult life chipping away at Rome’s territory, until he was eventually holed up in his tower, where he tried to kill himself by consuming poison.  However, he had built up such an immunity to poison over his life that he ended up having his servant stab him to death instead.  In addition to being a ruthless militarist, Mithridates was also one of antiquity’s most famous polyglots, claiming to speak around 30 languages fluently.  All things considered, Mithridates the Great is one of the most epic individuals to have ever lived.  Mithridates’ bourbon:  Fighting Cock 6 year.  Its big, bold, and finishes with a bang.  Mithridates was always one to go big or go home.  Its also a bourbon of the people, not elitist, much like Mithridates and the way he fought the Romans.

9. Charles Earl Bowles (Black Bart) (c. 1829-c. 1888) – Black Bart is perhaps the most famous criminal of the American West, mostly for his gentile style and the poems that he left behind.  Supposedly, he never even loaded his gun.  He simply relied on intimidation to hold up the stagecoaches he robbed.  Like most Wild West characters, separating fact from fiction is nearly impossible with Black Bart.  However, that does not mean that he would be any less of a bourbon partner.  He was a poet with some great stories to tell over a glass or two.  Black Bart’s bourbon:  Wild Turkey American Spirit.  Black Bart was not an American, but he came to embody the romance and ruthlessness of the American West.  I’ve got him drinking a top shelf bourbon that’s a little rough around the edges.

8. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) – To my knowledge, the only one of America’s founders to have a bourbon named after him/her is Thomas Jefferson, which puts him on my list of people to drink bourbon with.  In addition to his political exploits, he was also interested in a variety of different things, from farming to architecture.  He also had an eye for aesthetics rather than pragmatics, which is probably why Monticello was a failed business venture that left Jefferson in debt most of his life.  Like Mithridates, he spoke many languages (between 5 and 10), which would have made him a great bourbon companion.  Jefferson’s bourbon:  Jefferson’s Reserve, Presidential Select.  Come on, the bourbon is named after Jefferson’s presidency.  What else would he drink?

7. Henry “Long Ben” Every (1659-c. 1696) – Henry Every has been dubbed “The King of the Pirates,” primarily because he was never caught.  Of course, nobody actually knows what happened to Every after he stopped pilfering the Atlantic.  I like to think that he lived happily on Madagascar for many years.  That is where I’d like to sit and drink bourbon with “Long Ben” Every and hear his crazy seafaring stories.  Long Ben’s bourbon:  Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.  Devil’s Cut just sounds the bourbon that a pirate would drink.

6. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) – Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius, one of the few pure geniuses ever (in my opinion).  Unfortunately, many of his inventions were too far ahead of his time to be practical, which is why he would be a fascinating person to meet during time travel.  He was notoriously mysterious and reclusive during his lifetime, all the while pressing his mind to its limits for the sake of satisfying his own curiosity.  That’s certainly one recipe for a good bourbon companion.  Da Vinci’s bourbon:  Angel’s Envy.  It’s innovative, and a little off the beaten path.  It’s also hard to find, just like Da Vinci himself.

5. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – Oscar Wilde is one of the most quotable people I’ve read, which makes me think he would be a great bourbon partner.  Bourbon is not a drink for those who simply desire intoxication.  It is a complex drink that invites deep thought as well as light banter.  I believe Oscar Wilde would excel at both.  How many people have a top ten list of just their quotes?  http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-quotes-by-oscar-wilde.php  Oscar’s bourbon:  Blanton’s Original Single Barrel.  This bourbon is certainly one of the most iconic bottles in bourbon, with its orb-shape and racehorse stopper.  It is also incredibly smooth and seductive, much like the beautiful sexuality that Oscar Wilde loved so dearly.

4. Jesus of Nazareth (7-2 BCE-30-36 CE) – Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding Jesus of Nazareth, somewhat that has sparked the amount of controversy that he has would be a great bourbon companion.  His following indicates that he was an intelligent and captivating speaker, which is definitely one thing to look for in a bourbon companion.  Honestly, I’d like to just talk with him to see what was really going on in his mind.  Jesus’ bourbon:  Honestly, he would probably just supply his own.

3. Socrates (c. 470 BCE-399 BCE) – In many ways, my first introduction to Socrates was when I slowly began to learn the powers of the mind, and the powers of language.  For this reason, I would love to have a drink with the man who is partially responsible for my journey into intellectual history.  He loved a good conversation, and most good conversations are enhanced by bourbon.  Socrates’ bourbon:  Old Grand-Dad 114 proof.  As one of the grandfather’s of Western thought, it is only fitting that Socrates drink the best the Grand-Dad of bourbon (Basil Hayden, Sr.) has to offer.

2. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – Like Da Vinci, Franklin was pretty damn close to being a pure genius.  His curiosity knew no bounds, and his intellect followed closely behind.  He was a strong proponent of a few glasses of the good stuff, and I’m sure he would have been a strong endorser of bourbon had it been around in his lifetime.  Like Oscar Wilde, Franklin could be both a genius and a rabble-rouser in the same hour, which makes him a pretty solid bourbon companion.  Ben Franklin’s bourbon:  Hooker’s House.  Obviously, Franklin’s propensity for prostitutes makes this bourbon the logical choice.  In addition, Hooker’s House is an innovative bourbon created by finishing the bourbon in Pinot Noir casks before bottling it.  Creativity and sex were definitely two of Franklin’s hallmarks.

1. John Henry “Doc” Holliday (1851-1887) – As is the case with Black Bart and many other legends of the American West, separating fact from fiction with Doc Holliday is nearly impossible.  However, in the case of Doc Holliday, there are several themes among all his biographers and Hollywood portrayals.  Doc Holliday was a smooth-talking Georgian with a penchant for bourbon, poker, and a prostitute called Kate.  Hence, Doc Holliday is the historical figure I would most like to drink bourbon with.  Doc Holliday’s bourbon:  William Larue Weller.   I’ve got Doc drinking a bourbon that tastes great, but will also have the alcohol content to cure his tuberculosis.  Although William Weller is hard to get, Doc Holliday could sweet talk just about anybody with that soft, seductive Georgia accent.

Those are my top ten bourbon companions, what are yours?  Let me know what you think and let it ride!