Holiday Gift Guide for Bourbon Drinkers (2014)

Bourbon Gift Guide 2014
Bourbon Gift Guide 2014

The holidays are upon us and it’s hard to beat the gift of booze. I broke this guide down into three price ranges to fit budgets from a  secret Santa to that special someone. Also, and most importantly, you should be able to find nearly all bottles at any well stocked booze monger, with exceptions where regulations may complicate things. I also added a bonus item that might be a little tougher to find, but the intention is not to send you hunting for a Pappy Van Winkle or some other nonsense.

I also  wanted to offer a variety of both types of Bourbon and makers. There’s a couple wheated Bourbon, some low rye Bourbons, standard rye Bourbons and high rye Bourbons. Also proof of these Bourbons range from about 90-proof or so up to barrel proof. Lastly, each distillery has a bit of a unique flavor from their mash recipes, yeasts, and aging warehouses, so I tried to give some variety there also.

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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.

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Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition (2014) – Review

Four Roses Small Batch LE 2014 Background

Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2014
Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2014

Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition/LE 2014 is the latest annual release of Four Roses’ special Small Batch. Each year Four Roses selects a special version of its Small Batch bourbon using a blend from 10 of their different recipes. The recipes are different from the standard Four Roses Small Batch, which is mixture of OBSO, OBSK, OESO, and OESK barrels. Also different is the Limited Edition is a barrel strength bottle where the standard Small Batch is at 90-proof.

This year’s Four Roses Small Batch LE 2014 is bottled at 55.9% / 111.8-proof. The selected barrels are OBSV @ 13 years, OESV @ 12 years, OBSF @ 11 years, and OBSK @ 9 years. So, technically this is a 9-year-old bottle, but consists of Bourbon of up to 13 years old.

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Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch 6 @140.2° – Review

Background

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch 6
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch 6

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is back with a sixth batch. This time around it’s the biggest proof yet at 70.1% / 140.2-proof  (AKA: Hazmat batch). Judging from the web analytics there’s a lot of interest in these new Elijah Craig BP batches, so I’ll post some thoughts on my bottle of batch 6.

I’m not going to compare this batch to previous bottles. I thought about it, but I highly doubt you’ll find yourself deciding which batch to buy. These bottles don’t seem to hang around shelves long enough to be an option. On the other hand, if you bought a previous batch all you want to know whether Batch 6 stacks up against the earlier bottles, the answer is yes.

Batch 1 – 67.1% / 134.2-Proof
Batch 2 – 68.5% / 137.0-Proof
Batch 3 – 66.6% / 133.2-Proof
Batch 4 – 66.2% / 132.4-Proof
Batch 5 – 67.4% / 134.8-Proof
Batch 6 – 70.1% / 140.2-Proof
Batch 7– 64.0% / 128.0-Proof
Batch 8 – 69.9% / 139.8-Proof
Batch 9 – 67.8% / 135.6-Proof

Details

12 year age statement. Bottled at 70.1% / 140.2-proof. Uses Heaven Hill’s mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $50

Aroma

Woody and roasted. Dark caramel, raisins, vanilla, a bit perfumey. Wood polish. Cherries, mint.

Flavor

Full and woody. Toffee-like and dark brown sugar. Coffee. Burnt popcorn. Has a punch, but even at 140-proof it’s still sippable. Sweetness is balanced out with the strong flavors, but it’s still there. Vanilla pokes out here and there. Residual alcohol burn, minty, and dry astringency finishes it out.

Overall

Except for a few clusters, all the leaves are off the trees here in Michigan. This weekend we lit our first fire of the season and football is on the TV. I’m also revisiting an old friend here in Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. As the weather get chilly, this is a quiet enjoyable sipper.

Elijah Craig BP is one of the better things happening in Bourbon now. It’s big, bold, and has an assertive woody flavor that may not appeal to everyone, but if you ask me it’s a pretty great pour. Stock up for winter.