$ — 50% ABV — No Age Statement
A Bourbon that thinks its a rye, Old Grand-Dad is close to the heart of many bartenders as it checks all the boxes: old brand, strong flavor and dirt cheap. The grand-daddy in question is Basil Hayden, an early settler of Nelson County, Kentucky. Having since bred many innovators (Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Maker's Mark) Nelson whiskey is Bourbon's biggest rival. And though OGD is now made at the Beam distillery in Bullitt County, it hasn't changed much since 1882.
Traditionally, Bourbon is made up of 15% rye grains, but Old Grand-Dad calls for nearly double that. So while still being sweet and round-bodied from all that corn, Old Grand-Dad has much stronger notes of fruit and cinnamon, compared to other Bourbons. For juleps or old fashioneds, what more could you ask?
Old Grand-Dad stayed on the shelves during Prohibition as a medicinal whiskey, so an OGD julep is right on the money. Now marketed alongside Overholt and Crow in a trifecta of straight whiskeys called the Olds, Beam-Suntory describes Grand-Dad as "oaky," "fruity" and "cantankerous." I can't disagree.
There are several versions of Old Grand-Dad: the standard bonded version; a non-bonded (80 proof) version, which should be avoided; and the rare cask strength OGD 114, which sells at a huge bargain. And for a few dollars more, there's the Basil Hayden luxury brand. It's twice as old and twice the price but — while HBO's Deadwood has made it more famous than it's ever been — Bourbon fans tend to agree: Basil Hayden can't trump OGD. And with OGD's recent facelift, there's plenty of it go around.
Basil Hayden was established in 1882 by Raymond B. Hayden. It is now distilled by Jim Beam, in Clermont, Kentucky in Southern USA. Established in 1795 by Jim Beam, it is now part of the Beam-Suntory conglomerate.