Distillery: Beam Suntory. Deerfield , IL
Age: 4 YR
Nose: There is an initial astringency that takes a second to blow off. Once it does there is a classic bourbon profile of caramel and vanilla that is paired with some honey, brown butter, and bruleed bananas. A very light fruit runs underneath the whole nose with a bit of fresh corn keeping it company.
Palate: The taste is where the Old Grand-Dad really shines. Caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, corn, nutmeg, and some pepper are the principle flavors. There are some very sweet dessert like qualities to this bourbon with candied nuts, cherries, and a hint of fruit. Adding water or ice enhances the caramel and vanilla while simultaneously bringing out some additional savory notes of brown butter and something that reminds me of sage.
Color: Golden Honey
Notes: Old Grand-Dad was a distiller named Basil Hayden who made his name by distilling a bourbon whiskey made with a higher percentage of rye giving it a more robust and spicy flavor. The distillery he started (along with his recipe) was handed down from generation to generation and it was his grandson, a 3rd generation distiller who ended up naming the whiskey after his grandpa Old Grand-Dad. During prohibition the company who owned Old Grand-Dad made the whiskey as a “medicinal whiskey” that could be purchased with a doctor’s prescription keeping this delicious tipple alive, kicking and good for what ails ya.
One thing you’ll notice on the bottle of Old Grand-Dad is that it says, in very large letters, Bottled In Bond. What that means is that the whiskey was made during one distillation season (Jan – Dec) by one distiller at one distillery. But that’s not all. It must also be aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least 4 years and be bottled at 100 proof. The bottle’s label must also list the distillery it was created in and where it was bottled at (if different than the distillery). Most folks think it’s a relic of ye olden days, but I think it’s fantastic and really shows off the talent of the distiller who can’t rely on multi-distillation blending to get the flavor right but skill and experience alone.
Of all “The Olds” Old Grand-Dad is my favorite and also happens to be one of the whiskeys I believe doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. Next time you’re hosting a blind bourbon tasting add this to your line up. You’ll be surprised how many of your fellow whiskey snobs will tell you they like it but might have turned their nose up if they had known what it was. Just goes to show that you can’t judge a whiskey by it’s bright orange label.