Old Grand Dad 114

Old Grand Dad 114

114 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

In 1840, Raymond B. Hayden opened his Old Grand Dad Distillery and launched its flagship brand, Old Grand Dad, the name referring to his grandfather, whiskey distiller and devout Catholic (funny how alcohol and religion seem to always go hand and hand), Basil Hayden, who famously led a group of Catholic families from Maryland to settle in Kentucky at the end of the 18th century.  The brand has withstood the test of time, and was one of the only products still allowed to be legally made during Prohibition in the 1920’s because the company was able to market it as “medicinal whiskey” and sure enough doctors were prescribing it for toothaches, joint pain, and who knows what else.  I think it cures just about anything, but unfortunately I’m not a doctor, or I’d be able to buy way more whiskey.

Now owned by Beam Inc. (or I guess we call them Beam Suntory now), the Old Grand Dad name is on three of Beam’s bourbons–Old Grand Dad (the flagship, now bottled at 80 proof instead of the traditional 86), Old Grand Dad BIB (Bottle in Bond, which means 100 proof if you don’t know nothin’), and more recently the Old Grand Dad 114 which I’ll be tasting here.  And then of course there is Basil Hayden’s whiskey, the OGD himself.  The man you see on all the bottles of OGD is Basil, by the way.

When I first saw Old Grand Dad 114, my first thought was “an almost cask strength bourbon for $25?  I’m in!”  But then I started thinking there must be a catch, or I was being swindled somehow.  After sitting down with this bourbon a few times, I’m still a little undecided if that’s the case or not.

All the Old Grand Dad bourbons (and Basil Hayden’s) are from Beam’s high-rye mash bill, about 27 percent rye, as opposed to their standard 15 percent rye bill.  I’ve said before, I don’t have a preference, but I’ve had some bourbons where I wish they has turned the rye up a notch.

The nose of a super high proof bourbon usually takes some finagling (I guess adding water, letting it breathe a few minutes in a glass, and swirling it a bit are the only tricks I know) to pick up all the notes.  First sniff of this I barely got anything at all except intense alcohol zing.  Added some water.  Same thing.  More water.  Same.  I think I’ve got it watered down to about 80 proof now, and I’m still not getting much.  Rye and mint are starting to come out a bit, but it just doesn’t have that much going on in the nose.  Swirling a bit I get some light caramel and old lady perfume.  Thankfully it tastes better, though not by enough to make me shout for joy.  It’s really a pretty hot whiskey, at 114 proof of course it is, but even watered down you just feel the alcohol overpowering the flavor.  The finish is fairly dry and fairly short except the rye white pepper sting that lingers.  A good amount of oak, sawdust, and a tiny bit of cinnamon, but not enough of the sweetness that could really balance this thing out.  It’s got a certain medicinal quality to it that is really not very pleasing.  Maybe they are worried Prohibition v2.0 will happen and they need market it as medicine again!

So, overall I’m pretty disappointed in the OGD 114.  It’s not awful, I’ve had way worse, but it comes in such a pretty box…

HOWEVER, I will say the price is good for the alcohol content, but I mean you could just buy Everclear if you are worried about that.  No age statement on the 114, I’m guessing it’s not over 6 years old, and I really feel like maybe a few more years in a barrel would mellow it out a lot and maybe give it some of the sweetness it’s lacking for balance.

Rating: 5.7 / 10

Bought at Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens, GA for about $25.

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