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Friday, June 16, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Old Grand-Dad 114 (bottled 2008?)

Never particularly fond of the lower proof Old Grand Dads, I don't mind the 114 proof version as it usually delivers a lot of punch at its good price. I reviewed the then current version in 2014. While doing some dusty hunting in a neighboring state, I found a bottle with a L8 code alongside a bunch with L14 codes. So I think it's from 2008. It lists its code twice, adjacently:

This review comes from the second half of the bottle. The first half was often unpleasant, and made for the ugliest Manhattans on record.

Owner: Beam Suntory
Brand: Old Grand-Dad
Distillery: Booker Noe Plant
Location: Boston, Kentucky
Mash Bill: Beam's high-rye
Age: ???
ABV: 57% ABV

The nose leads with cut lumber, followed by cherry candy, brine and loads of raw rye spirit. A bit of hazelnut liqueur in there too. The bold palate has more of a rye kick than most 51%-rye rye whiskies. There's also tart citrus, wood spice and something salty & meaty. Plenty of heat and sweet. It finishes sticky sweet. Definitely cherry lollipops. Tannic, hot and peppery.

WITH WATER (~50%abv)
The nose has burnt peanuts, lead and brine. Cardboard and corn syrup. No more rye. The palate has less heat, but is sweeter. Peanuts and cherry candy. The finish is similar to the palate, but is face-makingly cloying.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Burnt toast, mint leaves, creamed corn and cherry candy on the nose. The palate is mild, bitter, sweet and nutty. Its finish fades quickly. Sweet, tannic and a little bitter.

MANHATTAN w/ bourbon at full strength
Terrible. Bitter, tart and lead laden. Maybe a hint of cherries.

MANHATTAN w/ bourbon reduced to 40%abv
Much better. More citrus and baking spices. Actually feels more bourbony.

TL;DR - DO NOT add water if you're sipping it. DO add water if you're making a Manhattan with it.

What a strange experience this bottle has been. Its palate is always better than its nose, which I can't say I've found too often. The rye edge is much appreciated, and its much missed once the whiskey is diluted. All of this is the exact opposite of my encounter with the 2014 bottling, which had little rye and took water well.

Perhaps I'm experiencing bourbon exhaustion. Bourbon has been my only go-to for casual sipping for the past several weeks, and I think I gotta take a break from it. I'll review something a little different next Friday.

Availability - Not as wide as it used to be, not carried in all states
Pricing - $25-$35
Rating - 79


  1. I'm always worried about these bottles sitting on a shelf in a hot store for years.

    1. Would a high ABV better protect a whiskey from the trials and tribulations of an environment? Just a scientificish question.

      Could have been a crappier batch, instead.

    2. People from Bacardi, I believe, came up with a report a few years ago admitting that heat & sun do no favors to liquor. They did indicate, if memory serves, that higher ABV is less affected than low ABV. Here's a reference, but not the article I originally read. (That one said something about 100°F as the tolerance threshold.)

      There are anecdotes of people storing whisky in storage spaces where temperatures go to 180°:

      But yes, it could have been a crappier batch.