Whisky Connosr

Old Grand Dad (43%) 2012

Beginner's Mind

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@VictorReview by @Victor

23rd Dec 2014


Old Grand Dad (43%) 2012
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Old Grand-Dad is a very old brand of American bourbon whiskey. Old Grand-Dad was a bourbon whiskey first distilled by Raymond B. Hayden in 1840, and named after his grandfather, Basil Hayden, Sr. Basil Hayden was one of the first bourbon distillers in Kentucky in the 1780s, and is credited by some with introducing rye grain into the local corn whiskey, thus creating what we now know as bourbon. Rye whiskey had been common in Maryland from which Basil Hayden had migrated to Kentucky. The addition of rye to corn whiskey increased both flavour intensity and also complexity compared to straight corn whiskey

The Old Grand-Dad brand was sold to the Wathen family in 1899 (N.B. Wathen's bourbon, and the Charles Medley Distillery), then to Fortune Brands/Beam Inc. in 1987. Old Grand-Dad is currently made at Jim Beam's distillery at Clermont, Kentucky. This reviewed 43% Old Grand-Dad is from a 50 ml mini. Until late 2012 or early 2013 43% was the standard abv for standard Old Grand-Dad. Now the 43% abv Old Grand-Dad has been replaced by a 40% abv expression. Old Grand-Dad is also sold in a Bottled-In-Bond (50% abv, 4 years old) expression, and as a barrel strength Old Grand-Dad 114, at 57% abv

The rye content of the Old Grand-Dad line, and of Jim Beam's Basil Hayden's Small Batch bourbon, which is based on the Old Grand-Dad mashbill, is relatively high, probably approximately 28%. The standard Jim Beam mashbill, used for, to the best of my knowledge, all of Beam's other products, is around 15% rye content

I title this review Beginner's Mind because it is an interesting exercise for me to go back and taste a very familiar basic bourbon after not having drunk any of it for quite some time. This is a Straight Bourbon Whiskey with no age statement, which means, by US law, that it can be assumed to be 4 years old. I don't add water to 43% abv whiskeys

Nose: tannic wood, slight floral perfume, black pepper and nutmeg from rye grain. This wood here smells young, which it is. As bourbon noses go, this is only so-so

Taste: this particular mini of OGD is woodier than most I have had of this whiskey. Both the tannins from wood and the char come across strongly on the palate, more strongly than I would like. Both the spices and the floral perfume from the nose are tastable, but they are overwhelmed by the wood flavours. The pitch of most of the flavours of the palate is quite deep. Mid-palate this sample is becoming quite sour. Of maybe 6 or 8 prior samples of this whiskey I have had, this one is the worst tasting. Usually I have found OGD to be drinkable but too understated

Finish: sour and tannic

Balance: tannic wood dominates, so balance is lost

Beginner's Mind in this case means honestly reviewing the sample at hand. This mini is the worst 43% abv Old Grand-Dad I have tasted, and not representative of other samples of it which I have had. I would estimate that I would have rated them averaging around 75 pts, with acceptable, but not glowing flavours, and generally lacking sufficient intensity of flavour. This sample had plenty of flavour, in fact way too much flavour, in an unbalanced sort of tannic woody way

I was and am very unhappy at the move by Jim Beam, now Beam/Suntory, to reduce the abv of the standard Old Grand-Dad to 40% abv. 40% abv is almost always too low in its concentration of flavours for bourbon sipping whiskey. 40% abv OGD is only good for cocktails, in my opinion. I thought much the same thing about the recent 43% abv OGD, now discontinued. This reviewed mini of the 43% abv OGD is too unbalanced to be a sipper, but it would have been fine in a cocktail

Does any of this mean that Old Grand-Dad is not a good or recommended brand of bourbon? NO. Not at all. Old Grand-Dad 50% Bottled-in-Bond and Old Grand-Dad 114 are both excellent bourbons, and best buys for quality in the American whiskey market

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CharlieDavis commented

Thank you, Victor, for another excellent review. We haven't interacted much--I'm usually too lazy to log in--but I always rely on your reviews. In fact, I had been considering the OGD 114, and that last endorsement sealed the deal. Whenever I want to consider something new I always check to see if you've reviewed it first. I'm truly grateful for the effort you put into this for all of us, and for the reliability and balance of your reviews.

9 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Charlie Davis, thank you very much for your kind words. Like, I expect, most reviewers, nothing pleases me more than for my reviews to be helpful and meaningful to others. When I came onto Connosr 4 years ago there were very few reviews of American products. My review of Old Grand-Dad 114 was my very first Connosr review. I've posted 8 or 10 times through these pages that the very thought of OGD114 always puts a smile onto my face. Good choice! OGD114 is VERY entertaining bourbon.

9 years ago 0