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Revisiting the Old Grand-Dads

Posted on by Eric Burke

Sometimes circumstances beyond your control put you in a position where you realize: “Hey, I’ve got bottles of three different styles of Old Grand-Dad open.”

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Eric, you’ve limited yourself to enough room for 22 open bottles of American whiskey, why would you have three different styles of Old Grand-Dad open?”

Or at least you would be asking that if this were a local radio commercial. I feel sorry for those guys. I worked with some folks who needed to write or record that stuff at my last job. It’s hard to get something good approved sometimes.

Anyway, it’s still a good question. How on Earth did I end up with this? I do have limited space, it seems odd to devote a little more than one eighth of it to a single brand.

Well, the 80 proof is still left over from the Bottom Shelf Brackets I did in March. It’s almost gone, but still seems to be hanging around. The 114 is one of my favorite sub-$25 dollar bourbons and I pick it up anytime I see it on sale. 

And the 100 proof Bonded? Well, I picked it up for the blog, around the time of the label change thinking that a label change might have signified something greater. Reading the folks who also had that thought, made me think that we were all mistaken and that there was little if anything different inside the bottle. So there it sat. Until I realized that for the first time, I actually had all three Old-Grand-Dad’s in the house. Having fallen in love with the 114, I haven’t had Old Grand-Dad Bonded in the house since late 2011/early 2012 and I was curious to revisit it after a span of a few years. 

Plus I thought it might be an interesting chance to explore the effects of dilution. Three bottles of supposedly the same bourbon diluted to three different strengths, bottled and given time to mingle. I know there might be barrel choices that influence things, but eh, it’s for fun, not science this time, right?

Three Old Grand-Dads

Purchase info:

80 proof: Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN. $13.99 750 mL

100 proof Bonded: Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN. $22.99  1 L

114 Proof: Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN. $24.99  750 mL

Nose: 

80 proof: Fruity graininess, sweet cinnamon, a hint of mint and some oak

100 proof Bonded: Less pronounced grain, some mint, vanilla and honey sweetness along with oak dryness.

114 proof: Initially very sweet. Some alcohol burn. Mint, toffee, yeasty bread dough. 

Thoughts: Very interesting to see what the amount of dilution does to the nose of a whiskey. In this case, the higher the water content, the more pronounced the fruity and grainy notes. As an experiment, I watered down some of the 114 proof to 80. The nose was almost indistinguishable from the bottled 80 proof. 

Mouth: 

80 proof: Cinnamon gum, mint and oak dryness

100 proof Bonded: Sweet vanilla, oak, baking spices, anise.

114 proof: Hot and sweet, oak, hints of cherries and cocoa. 

Finish:

80 proof: Decent length. Sweet and spicy. Lingering oak dries the mouth.

100 proof Bonded: Heat that settles in the chest and stays there a while. Lingering anise. Mouth numbing. 

114 proof: Very warm and long lasting. Lingering dry oak.

Thoughts: I’m guessing barrel selection plays as big a part as proof does on the palate with these. For instance the 114 proof watered down to 80 proof just tastes like watered down 114 proof. Overall I like the 100 and 114 proof much more than the 80 proof. The 80 proof is merely meh. There is a smaller difference between the 100 and 114 though, the 114 still reigns as my favorite sub $25 bourbon.


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