Review of the Month: The Old Grand-dad review
Company: Jim Beam
Classification: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
Breakdown: 63% corn, 27% rye, 10% malted barley
Price: c. £25-28
For the November review of the month we have chosen one of our very first reviews to hit the website, back when we first launched on 29th August 2016 - Old Grand-Dad.
Now, looking back on this one, we were just starting out and hadn’t quite got to grips with our own voice or writing style. Even Mav is surprised he ever wrote something so dry. Also, while we had loved drinking bourbon for quite a few years before this, it was the first time we had ever really written down tasting notes and we struggled to pull much out. This would improve over time of course, but the Gents will probably revisit this bourbon again soon to see if we have learned anything over the last few years.
We don’t call it out explicitly in the review itself, but of course Old-Grand-Dad is a high rye bourbon and so we shouldn’t have been too surprised to find it quiet spicy on the palate. This makes the scores given at the end quite surprising when viewed now, knowing what a fan Mr. Pie is of rye, that his score wasn’t higher. Perhaps this would change too if we were to review it again?
Old Grandad is distilled at Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, USA. The chap on the front of the bottle is Basil Hayden Snr whose grandson, Raymond B Hayden, created the brand. Basil Hayden is of course another brand of bourbon in its own right and part of the legendary Jim Beam small batch collection. The Hayden family has been distilling whiskey since 1840 but according to the Beam Suntory website (Suntory now being the owners of Jim Beam) this particular bourbon has been around since 1882 (other sources however do claim it was available since 1840) and is currently in the top 10 list of best-selling ‘straight’bourbons.
During prohibition it was produced by the American Medicinal Spirits Co and was allowed to be sold as a medicine (what a time to be alive). The 40% ABV offering we are sampling only became available in 2013. As only water can be added to bourbon that is exactly what Jim Beam did and diluted the original 43% ABV version to gain more from their barrels. We wonder how many additional bottles that created? If you can still find a 43% ABV then we suggest you grab it while you can and let us know if there is much of a difference between the two.
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass
What we got - Very sweet, caramel, syrup, Bakewell tart, marzipan
What they say we should get - Pecans, baked bread, maple syrup, caramel and tobacco
What we got - Peppery, spicy (huge contrast with the nose)
What they say we should get - Full and buttery with a refined but deep hit of rye. Black cherries and pepper, that same sweet baked bread note as on the nose
What we got - Short, easy on the finish
What they say we should get - Cherry jam and marmalade with a cayenne pepper heat
Stark contrast between the nose and the palate. Very sweet and cake like on the nose, but the palate delivers a peppery, spicy offering. It is quite a complex nose and we are missing a lot on what other (more expert) reviews are finding. No baked bread or marmalade for us unfortunately.
As an introduction to a different whiskey that you won’t find in UK supermarkets, it is well worth a purchase. It didn’t however blow us away (there is a lot of love for this bourbon elsewhere on the internet) and we were left feeling that it was quite middle of the road. There is always the chance though that time proves us wrong on this one!
5 out of 10 - Mav
5 out of 10 – Mr. Pie