Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon

Owned and distilled by the Jim Beam company, Old Grand-Dad is named after famed distiller Basil Hayden. The whisky is produced at a few different proofs, including a 100-proof Bottled in Bond variant and a 40% ABV bottom-shelfer. Having enjoyed the 40% ABV version despite its anemic wateriness, I thought I might enjoy the full-strength version. Old Grand-Dad 114 is named, appropriately, for its 114 proof (57% ABV). This is not quite cask-strength, as they must water the whiskey down to hit a consistent 57% ABV, but it’s close.

Old Grand-Dad bourbons are purportedly from a “high rye” mash bill, despite a total lack of definitive information on the subject.

Oddly, I found that Old Grand-Dad (both 40% and 57%) to be distinctly different from their namesake bourbon (created by Jim Beam in 1992 to honor the legendary distiller), Basil Hayden, which is… I’m sorry… bad.

Nose: Alcohol burn (of course), tobacco, scorched toasted nuts (acrid). Heavily oaky. Caramel and burned sugar. Closed-off (hard to detect anything but alcohol).

Palate: Medium bodied. Intense tongue burn (as expected), followed by signature Jim Beam corn-forward mash. There are also elements of cherry pie filling, caramel, powdered cinnamon, and dark chocolate-covered cherries. This otherwise pleasant-sounding combination is marred by overbearing charcoal and astringent, cardboard-like oakiness.

Finish: Medium-short. Corn (think Corn Nuts), charcoal (but oddly without the usual charcoal bitterness), cinnamon, and more tobacco. Fades without changing much.

With Water: Several drops of water (yes, please!) have little obvious effect on the aroma. The palate, however, is far easier to handle and contains sweeter notes of toffee and vanilla. If you’re tasting this I suggest smelling it, adding a very little water, tasting it, and then adjusting with more water to your preference.

Overall: This is very basic, corn-forward, Jim Beam-esque, full-strength whiskey. This is the kind of thing you use when you want a cocktail or recipe to taste like “bourbon” but without caring much about the nuance. The kind of thing you order so that you can shoot it and feel like a frontiersman at a dingy saloon in Deadwood. The kind of thing you use in a cocktail when it’s been “that kind of day” and the only thing you care about in your Old Fashioned is the alcohol percentage. (For what it’s worth, it makes a perfectly passable Old Fashioned, with a robust bourbon flavor and appropriate strength.) At $26 it’s good for all of those things, and those things only.

Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon
57% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $25 - $31
Acquired: (750ml bottle) $26, K&L Wines, Redwood City, CA.

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  • I agree, for the most part, with your assessment. This is a brash (albeit full flavored) whiskey that’s really only served for drinking neat when you wanna feel like you’re in an old west saloon or want to miraculously grow more hair on your chest. As I got into the bottle I found it was definitely best suited for cocktails, and by the end of the bottle I was immensely enjoying it in my Manhattans, with some tart cherry bitters along with the usual angostura.

      • after researching a few brands I ended up getting the woodford reserve barrel aged ones from Amazon. Like 12 bucks I think. They work well for me! I hate messing around with garnishes, so its a good way to get the cherry in my manhattan without, you know, putting an actual cherry in it

  • Good review, Scotch Noob. I concur, it does make a great mixer. The bourbon enthusiasts community are nashing their teeth regarding Beam-Suntory decision to stop production on this expression last fall. The purge has already begun her in the Bluegrass state…you can’t find any on the shelves since mid-December. Cheers.

  • Not sure if you heard the news, but Beam-Suntory has back peddled on its decision to discontinue the OGD 114 expression according to bourbon industry authority Chuck Cowdery. Between this PR fiasco and the Booker’s blunder you to have to wonder what the hell is going on with the ad wizards that Beam-Suntory employs. I am sure that the bourbon enthusiasts are celebrating. Cheers.

  • Disagree with this review. Yes, it is hot, but there’s a lot more going on – especially at the price point. This IS Basil Hayden, but stronger and younger. If you’ve always wondered what a stronger BH would be like, mix BH and this 50/50.

  • This is what Basil Hayden aspires to be but isn’t. Yes indeed it is cause for celebration that OGD114 was not cast into the abyss as it is an outstanding bourbon, thankfully free of the Beam funk that is a byproduct of their house yeast ( OGD uses a different yeast carried over when they bought the brand). Granted this dram might be a bit much for “bourbon noobs”, OGD Bib would then be a great place to start as it too is a great pour and required reading for any bourbon curious. Both 114 and BiB are examples of what a classic, proper bourbon should be, attainable and delicious.

    • I enjoy the 114 very much. However, I have gone through a bottle of the bib and to me, it does have the Jim Beam “funk”. So not sure that they haven’t been using their proprietary yeast in this one now too. Fortunately, the 114 tastes like an altogether different beast. Wish the bib didn’t have the funk because it sure would be more friendlier on the wallet. But, the 114 is definitely, if not cheap, certainly it’s a less expensive “barrel proof” (or close to it) bourbon. Cheers!

      Going out tomorrow to get a replacement bottle of OGD 114. 🙂

  • I keep a pretty well stocked cabinet, but the OGD 114 gets decanted as the house bourbon here, and everyone now asks for “the good stuff” from the decanter. Nothing is more subjective than the sense of taste, and I wonder if decanting makes the difference here, as no one is detecting “cardboard” or “oakiness” from this OGD 114 pour. We opened a Glenfarclas 21 a few months back, and the consensus on that at the time was “over-oaked” and had “sulphur notes”. After some time in the bottle after the initial big pours, all those notes are gone (as is most of the whisky). I will let other argue about the value of decanting and letting whiskeys breathe, and TOO long in an opened bottle or decanter usually makes for a “tired” whisky; however, recent experience seems to show improvement through decanting and/or time in an opened bottle with some older and higher proof whiskeys. A subject worth investigating perhaps…the OGD 114 is a big beast of a whiskey, more complex than “uhh…vanilla…some banana?” that seems to be the flavor profile for most bourbons, and it is hard to keep the decanter full! Just felt the need to defend an old friend here…try the Old Forester 100 proof Rye for another “best buy” dram. That one has knocked the Pikesville right off the top of the rye heap, at half the price.

    • Thanks for the notes! I’ll look for the rye. I personally choose not to decant, mostly because I regularly have between 5 and 10 bottles open at once, and 1) can’t decant them all, 2) the decanted one(s) would likely suffer over-exposure to light and air before I could finish them off. If you have a system that works for you, that’s great — keep doing that. 🙂 Cheers!