No, my nose and palate are not back in action (though I’m close): I just realized that I’d never actually published these notes on my bottle of Old Grand-Dad that were taken a long time ago (the picture is of the current state of the bottle, which is nearly empty). Here they are now with a newly-written “introduction”.
As you probably know, the Old Grand-Dad line is one of several put out by Beam. Other than their eponymous, and most famous, Jim Beam label, the distillery also puts out a number of premium “small batch” brands (Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Baker’s and Booker’s); Old Grand-Dad is at the other end of the price spectrum (but is made from the same mash bill as Basil Hayden, which makes sense as the old grand-dad referred to in the name is the actual Basil Hayden). This 40% abv version can be purchased by the liter for less than $15, a Bottled in Bond version at 50% abv goes for not too many dollars more and the 114 at 57% comes in shy of $30 in most markets. The cognoscenti will tell you that it’s the latter two that you should buy, and they’re not wrong, but as a man of the people here I am with a review of the lowliest in the line.
Old Grand-Dad (40%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Corn sweetness with a touch of vanilla and some dusty, spicy wood and some cinnamon; a hint of honey too maybe. Some brighter notes below (banana?). Not particularly intense but pleasant. With a tiny drop of water that fruity note becomes a tiny bit more pronounced (or maybe it’s my imagination).
Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose, with more of an emphasis on the spice (and I guess the source here seems to be the rye and not the wood). On the second sip there’s more oak and better balance. While the flavours are thin the mouthfeel per se is not. Not much change with time or water.
Finish: Medium. The spice is the lingering note here: cinnamon with some pepper. With water it’s a little sweeter at the end.
Comments: Yet more proof of how much more bang for your buck get from bourbon over single malt Scotch at this end of the price spectrum. This is no world beater and I wouldn’t buy it over Evan Williams but it’s a decent whiskey with no off-notes whatsoever. That said, it would be much better at the 43% abv it used to be bottled at before 2013. And yes, Basil Hayden’s, which probably gets the pick of the barrels from these runs, is better but I’m not sure it’s $26 better.
Rating: 78 points.
But Basil Hayden is likely older. Have you had the Evan Williams Single Barrel as well?
Maybe older; likely, I don’t know. Of course, there’s a simple way to clear this up…
I haven’t had the Evan Williams Single Barrel in a long time. But if my nose/palate ever get back to normal I’m going to be making an effort to drink and review more affordable bourbons going forward—it seems to be one of the few parts of the whisky/whiskey spectrum where you can really get your money’s worth.