Tag Archives: High Rye Bourbon

Old Grand Dad Bonded – Review

Old Grand Dad Bonded

Old Grand Dad Bonded
Old Grand Dad Bonded

Old Grand Dad Bonded is part of an Old Grand Dad brand that was launched by Raymond Haden in the 1840’s and named for his grandfather Basil Hayden. The Haden’s distilling days reach back to the 1790’s after the family moved from Maryland to Kentucky. Today, the brand resides with Beam-Suntory.

Old Grand Dad is unique in the Beam line with a high rye recipe. The current recipe for the line of Old Grand Dad Bourbons is thought to be similar to the original recipe back in the day. While the recipe is unique among Beam’s Bourbons, it seems to me it shares the standard Beam yeast.

The Old Grand Dad family consists of a standard 86-proof, a 100-proof bottled in bond (reviewed here) and a 114-proof barrel strength. Bottled-in-Bond is a certification requiring the Bourbon to be distilled during the same year and from the same distillery. It must also be aged in a bonded warehouse for at least four years. Lastly, the Bourbon is to be bottled at 100-proof. Bottled-in-Bond seems to be a bit of a relic these days, however, a lot of older labels retain the certification. These less trendy bottles with their amble 100-proof can make for a great value.

Details

No age statement 100-proof. High rye mash thought to be around 27% rye. Paid $20

Aroma

Caramel, roasted corn, oranges, toast, cinnamon

Flavor

Sweet caramel, Nutty. A little smokey, Burnt sugars. Minty. A little Red Hots

Overall

Old Grand Dad Bonded is a spicy and lively Bourbon. It dances in the mouth a bit and has a bite. It seems to have some properties of a younger Bourbon with roasted corn, but still picking up a bunch of barrel with sweetness, caramel, and charred wood.

I assume we have the standard Beam yeast here, which to me, is a  unique profile and I’m not always in the mood. That might keep this from being a regular bottle, or at least instead choose one of the more upscale Beam labels. Still, Old Grand Dad Bonded is a feisty Bourbon that works for a change of pace.

The pricing on Old Grand Dad Bonded is pretty great, although it seems a big price hike is on the way. Perhaps the word got out or it’s simply an overdue price correction on a generally overlooked bottle. Also, Old Grand Dad Bonded recently got a makeover label. The one pictured here is the retired branding, so likely Beam is polishing this one up and pricing it accordingly for the current market.

Recommendation

Buy a Bottle / 3.0 out of 5.0

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Some other high rye Bourbons around the same price. I’d suggest looking into Four Roses Yellow Label, Redemption and Bulleit. You can also check out Old Grand Dad 114, which is high proof big brother and a also a pretty great value. Wild Turkey 101 I think has some similar feistiness and I think matches up well.

Links & Other Reviews

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon – Review

Four Roses Yellow Label Background

 
Four Roses Yellow Label
Four Roses Yellow Label

Four Roses Yellow Label is the entry of the three regular Four Roses Bourbons. Second is Four Roses Small Batch and third is the Four Roses Single Barrel. Four Roses Yellow Label is an 80-proof Bourbon that a blending of their 10 straight Bourbon recipes. Four Roses Yellow Label is also younger than the other bottles, said to be about 6.5 years or so.

The wide array of recipes makes Four Roses unique, but also unique is how they age their Bourbon. They use single floor warehouses rather than multi-story buildings. Generally temperatures vary widely from floor to floor of a warehouse so by keeping all the barrels on the same floor should reduce variability from barrel to barrel. But, Bourbon being Bourbon, there are still a lot of variations between barrels regardless, so Four Roses utilized its 10 recipes to hone in on a consistent product.
While Four Roses Yellow Label is a lower 80-proof, it still packs surprising amount of flavor with its high rye recipes and unique yeast characteristics. I think it’s distinctly Four Roses, but the blending of many of their recipes makes it harder than the Small Batch to put your finger on individual characteristics from their private barrel selection.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 80-proof. High rye mash. Paid $20. 

Aroma

Fruity, charred oak. Carmel. Distinctly Four Roses. Minty. A little perfume. Red berries. Smells bright, fresh. Mild vanilla.

Flavor

Sweetness up front. Vanilla General fruitiness, caramel. Nice mild rye presence. Thin and finish quickly fades to a lingering residual char/roasted flavors.

Overall

With the lower proof, mild flavor, but still assertive rye character, I think Four Roses Yellow Label makes for a good cocktail mixer. Good flavor, but won’t over power. I’ve also made Bourbon Balls that turned out pretty nice along with some other stuff in the kitchen. Just drinking straight, Four Roses Yellow Label isn’t the most exciting dram. Lighter proof and younger than other Four Roses bottles, but still some great Bourbon for the price.

Recommendation

Buy a Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating
 
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Four Roses Yellow Label is a high rye Bourbon and other similar Bourbon that fit this price range could be Old Grand Dad BiB, Redemption Bourbon, and Bulleit Bourbon.

Links and other Reviews

 

Bulleit Bourbon – Review

Bulleit Bourbon Background

Bulleit Bourbon
Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon is a brand of Diageo and was introduced in 1999. It’s widely assumed to be entirely, but certainly at least in part, distilled at Four Roses. Bulleit Bourbon is then aged at Diageo’s Stitzel-Weller warehouses. The Bulleit brand includes Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon, and Bulleit Rye. The source of Bulleit Bourbon has changed or will be changing shortly away from Four Roses. This deal goes back to when Seagrams sold off many of its brands, which included both Bulleit and Four Roses and the Four Roses Distillery to Diageo. Diageo later sold Four Roses to current owners Kirin.

Diageo is now building a $115 million distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky and is expected to begin producing in 2016. It’s unclear if there will be a gap between this new production and the end of Four Roses sourcing, and if so, where it will come from. For now, however, we do know that current bottles have distillate from Four Roses.

Bulleit Bourbon doesn’t share the same recipe as any of Four Roses’ products. Four Roses has its 10 recipes and can create a unique product through blending. Bulleit Bourbon uses both of Four Roses’ 20% rye and 35% rye mashbills for a mash recipe of around 28% rye. Bulleit Bourbon doesn’t have an age statement, but is typically aged between 6-8 years.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 90-proof. Mash of about 28-percent rye. Paid $27

Aroma

Floral and sweet. Spicy, cinnamon. Minty. A bunch of caramel. Fruity with some apples. A little leather.

Flavor

A little flat without a lot of depth. The barrel character seems light with a hint of chocolate. Minty. Mint carry through the finish. Nice sweet, caramel, and vanilla flavors. Some astringency and ends on a bit of an acrid flavor.

Overall

Bulleit Bourbon was technically my first bottle of Bourbon. Years ago I went into the liquor store and asked for a quality middle of the road Bourbon to soak some oak cubes when making a Bourbon barrel stout. I remember taking a big swig of it and breathing fire. LOL. Times have changed.

Bulleit Bourbon is a pretty nice Bourbon and at a good price for a nice value. To me it seems a bit flat and some roughness around the edges, but it has a nice rye profile and does present a nice barrel character. Given the sub-$30 price for a good spicy rye Bourbon, it’s very nice option.

Comparatively this is like Four Roses Small Batch. Similar recipe split between Four Roses two high rye mashes, although it’s unknown which yeasts are used. It’s also bottled at the same 90-proof. Largely the difference appears to be perhaps the yeast and barrel storage. Bulleit Bourbon is stored at Stitzel-Weller warehouses in Louisville as noted, while Four Roses has a different style single story warehouses about an 45 minutes further south in Coxs Creek. I really like Four Roses Small Batch, and I would say Bulleit Bourbon is right in there. To use their tagline, I find Four Roses Small batch a bit more mellow with a little more character. Overall I prefer it, but Bulleit is still a nice pour for a few dollars less.

Bourbon nerds will likely object to Diageo and Tom Bulleit’s fishy back story. A lot of Bourbon brand lore is part myth and part truth, so I’m not going to get too worked up over it. At least not so much to shun a perfectly fine value. Still there’s plenty of fine Bourbon out there and people are free to vote with their wallets on both the Bourbon and the people behind the bottle. Personally, I’m not that concerned.

I’d have no problem buying another bottle of Bulleit Bourbon. In fact this is my third, including the first bottle back in the day. I’d happily spend a couple extra bucks for Four Roses Small Batch, however, their prices are going up, so that may change the equation a bit in the future.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 out of 5.0 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Bulleit Bourbon is a high rye Bourbon. In its price range I’d recommend also checking out Old Grand Dad 100, Redemption Bourbon, Four Roses Small Batch, and Ridgemont Reserve.

Links & Other Reviews

Old Grand-Dad 114 – Review

Old Grand-Dad 114 Background

Old Grand-Dad 114
Old Grand-Dad 114

Old Grand-Dad 114 is part of a larger Old Grand-Dad brand that was created in 1840’s by Raymond Haden. Old Grand-Dad was a reference to his grandfather Basil Hayden Sr. Basil was a distiller himself before when he moved with the family from Maryland to Kentucky in the 1780’s. Raymond Haden started a distillery on the family farm in 1790’s and the distillery was eventually sold in 1899. The distillery was closed for good during prohibition and the brand changed hands again to National Distillers Group who then sold it in 1987 to Fortune Brands, which became Beam.

The Haydens were said to  favored higher rye Bourbons and it’s thought Beam’s current high rye recipe used in Old Grand-Dad 114 is similar to what was made back in the day. Old Grand-Dad 114 is considered a barrel-proof Bourbon and is bottled at 114-proof.

In addition to the Old Grand-Dad brand, Beam has the Basil Hayden brand as a part of its Small Batch line. The Small Batch line also includes Knob Creek, Baker’s, and Booker’s.

Details

No age statement. 114-Proof. High rye mash thought to be around 27% rye. Paid $23

Aroma

Woody, light cloves. Ample caramel. Minty. Yeasty and biscuity. Orange zest.

Flavor

Sweet and caramel. That Beam nuttiness. Minty with some rye spiciness and touch of fresh cut grass. Woody and the finish is dry with medium astringency. Burnt flavors. Light alcohol burn.

Overall

Old Grand-Dad 114 is a little surprisingly light from what I’d expect at this proof. The finish is a little overly drying and there’s a little burnt-bitterness going on. Still a nice pour, although the story here is all in the value. I’m not sure I can think of another Bourbon that delivers at this price point. Closest might be Wild Turkey 101, which itself isn’t perfect, but easily to accept at its price tag.

I don’t want to oversell Old Grand-Dad 114 because this isn’t what I’ll be drinking when I hit the Powerball. It is, however, a pretty good Bourbon that becomes a great value when factoring in price. The proof alone pack a punch, but is mild for an easy sipper and the price also makes it a pocket-friendly and loud mixer. The Beam footprint is evident and I usually caution that the Beam yeast profile is not for everyone. It’s not for me every day, but some days it suits me fine.

Old Grand-Dad 114 is a bottle to get excited about. It’s forgotten as a mostly overlooked brand that, well, your grandpa might drink and not showcased in a trendy cocktail or whiskey bar. Old Grand-Dad 114 is a lower shelf dweller that you’ll probably have to lean over the counter to find.

Old Grand-Dad 114 is a nice quality Bourbon at a great price that hasn’t (yet) gotten swept up in the Bourbon craze. Now is your chance to drink it before it becomes cool.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Old Grand-Dad 114 is a high rye Bourbon, but also a high/barrel proof. If you’re looking to research similar bottles in this price range, I’d suggest checking out Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond/100, Redemption Bourbon, Bulleit Bourbon, and Four Roses Small Batch.

Links & Other Reviews

Four Roses – High Rye Private Selections – Review

Background

Four Roses Private Selection
Four Roses Private Selection

This is the second post in my look at Four Roses’ 10 different private barrels. I’d suggest checking that post on the lower 20% rye recipes for the background on this effort and how I stacked those 5 recipes.

In this post I’ll be looking at the even higher 35% rye recipes. It’s interesting to compare how the same yeast came across in the two recipes, although certainly barrel selection also plays a part.

Process

As I did last time, I’ll rank the recipes towards my preference and put in some notes for each. My goal isn’t really to review these as I expect different batches will move the needle either way a bit. My intent is just to determine which recipes I think I like best so I can seek those out in the future.

Note: The recipes with more than one bottle listed are sampled from all those bottles.

Continue reading Four Roses – High Rye Private Selections – Review