Tag Archives: tasting

American Trio #1: One-Oughts

Instead of venturing into a new whiskey this week, I’ve decided to take a look back with a coordinated trio from my past conquests.  For this first tri-tasting installment, I’ve chosen to group the spirits based on a common proof range.  This will allow me to better compare the plays and counter-plays between the other aspects of the trio.

And the three are…

1. Old Grand-Dad (Bonded) – the definition of the everyman’s bourbon: sweet, corn, classic (4 years, 100 proof)
2. Knob Creek – the punchy, bold, from the Jim Beam folks (9 years, 100 proof)
3. Old Weller Antique – reasonably priced, wheated, and slow: from Buffalo Trace (7 years, 107 proof)

I start with OGD – because there is no messing around with OGD.  It is not the subtlest of bourbons to say the least.  I’m betting it’s a good base to build from.  It is just as I expected, an angular, straight-forward bourbon.

On to the Knob Creek: in comparison, it smells sweet and refreshing…almost juicy.  Letting it wash over the tongue…wow.  Knob Creek really puts OGD in its place.  Much smoother much more depth to the flavor, yet still with its familiar punch followed by slow, oaky burn.  Over several more sips, the KB becomes spicier – as I remembered it had been.  Certainly not as angular as the OGD.  These two definitely contrast, though not in the most interesting way: we all knew that Knob Creek was better to begin with.

Moving on: Old Weller Antique comes across quite strangely after the Knob Creek.  Much more medicinal than I’d tasted before, and combined with the gentler wheated entrance it’s quite a shift of gears.  The spiciness is muted in comparision to a solo tasting, but appears in a crechendo in the finish.  These two demonstrate some of the fundamental differences between the two mash bill approaches.

Over all:
This is an interesting trio.  Clearly, there is a jump in market from the OGD to the KB and OWA, but each one is unique – with the exception of their proof range.  We have a wheated bourbon and two rye bases, one aged 4 years, one aged 7 years, and one aged 9 years.

I really enjoy the oak and tang from the Knob Creek that comes through with the increased aging and the Jim Beam mash bill respectively, but the Old Weller Antique finds its place in slower times when you aren’t looking for the muscle of Knob Creek.

As for Old Grand-Dad?  Well, good bless the fellow, he just makes the other ones taste better.

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Old Grand-Dad, Bonded

After last week’s extravagance in the form of Booker’s, I’m toning things down this week with a bottle of Old Grand-Dad.

Presentation:

OGD is an interesting case and charming in its peculiar qualities – or lack thereof.  The first thing one notices when looking at a bottle of OGD is the jarringly orange label with green and gold type.  Perhaps it’s meant to blend with the orange-hued spirit, perhaps there is some long held brand tradition, or perhaps it’s the simple fact that it’s a hell of a lot easier to pick out an orange label among the almost uniformly earth-toned bourbon shelf.

There are a few elements of the OGD packaging that distinguish it beyond the color scheme.  First to note is the fact that the company makes sure their drinker knows that this is a bonded whiskey.  While this is surely not the only bottled-in-bond variety of bourbon available, OGD seems to be the proudest of this point.  For a bourbon to be “bottled in bond” it means that the whiskey must be the product of one distillation season, one distiller, and one distillery, while being sold at 100 proof and having aged at least four years.

OGD’s proclamation of their bonded status makes sense when looking at the other details of the bottle.  At the bottom of the label is the sentence, “Bottled in bond under supervision of U.S. gov’t,” and surrounding the central portrait (presumably of Basil Hayden?) are the words “Registered U.S. Pat. Off.”  Both these details are oddly prominent on a modern bourbon bottle – and very likely not necessary, despite their official tone.  Instead, they likely are placed as they are to hark back to an age when they were necessary to verify the authenticity of the product.

It is this type of bureaucratic nostalgia, combined with the garish orange, which gives OGD its awkward charm.

Tasting:

Old Grand-Dad is nothing if not straight-forward, through and through.  To the nose it is quite medicinal with notes of oak and vanilla.  You can tell that this is 100 proof right away.

On the palate OGD is simply a classic bourbon: corn sweetness, caramel, and oak are the dominant sensations with a lingering finish of charred oak.  It’s tough to find too many more ways to describe it, but that seems to be the point of OGD, it is simply bourbon as it should be – no frills but no cut corners.

Over all:

At $18/bottle, Old Grand-Dad is a good choice for an every-day bourbon.  You can certainly do better than it, but there’s definitely a lot worse out there and probably for more dough.