Monday, January 19, 2015

Old Grand-Dad 114 Straight Kentucky Bourbon

It seems that Old Grand-Dad 114, distilled and bottled by Beam, has developed a bit of a cult following, at least among those bourbon drinkers that also peruse message boards.  I have frequently seen OGD114 lauded for being a good to great sipper at a very good price. 
After the holiday spending, an affordable sipper was just what was in store, so I finally grabbed one to see what all the fuss was about.  One such message boarder recommended that I open it and let it sit for a few days before trying.  I'm not one for such patience, though, so I cracked and poured.
My first drink was enjoyable, but not unlike most other lower-priced bourbons.  At a proof of 114 (as the name would imply), it had considerable burn, along with strong rye and oak flavors.  It was sweet up front, which made the burn easy to deal with, and made this an enjoyable drink.
I did let it sit for a couple days after that, however, just to see how things would change.  I was very pleasantly surprised at the transformation of the flavor in just a couple days.  While the oak and rye were still prominent and heavy on the tongue, they were complemented by a distinct cocoa butter taste that coated my mouth.  It remained very sweet, and in fact probably got a bit sweeter, adding a maple syrup flavor to the mix as well.
The flavors did not necessarily blend together.  Rather, each flavor seemed to stand out on its own, in contrast with one another while at the same time going together perfectly.  It seems like a very ambiguous description, I know.  But so often when I drink bourbon I taste the common elements like the corn or the rye, along with hints of other flavors that are almost fleeting.  Here, I tasted oak, followed by what was certainly rye spices, all while distinctly noting the butteriness that lingered.
This is an excellent whiskey for what it is.  It's affordable because it's not overly complex or aged for many years.  But, as far as "affordable" whiskeys go, I'd put it right at the top.
Grade: B

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maker's Mark Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon

The Maker's Mark Cask Strength release has been drawing my attention at the stores for a while now, but I just couldn't convince myself to purchase such a small bottle for $35.  Maker's Mark produced this limited release bourbon in 375ml bottles, and it always seemed there was a full sized bottle of something else that I'd rather have.  Eventually, though, I found myself heading to the store for the specific purpose of grabbing a bottle.

I'm a fan of Maker's Mark to begin with.  When I'm out and the selection is limited, it is usually my go-to bourbon.  Accordingly, it should follow that I would enjoy the higher proof version.

At 113.3 proof, the burn is significantly stronger than the standard Maker's Mark.  That being said, it's one of the smoother higher proof bourbons I've had.

This is a sweet bourbon, with grain/cereal flavor in the background, while flavors of vanilla and caramel take center stage.  There is also a nuttiness to it, blending perfectly with all the other flavors.  It absolutely has the flavor profile of Maker's Mark, but with much more complexity and robustness to it. 

The alcohol burn lingered slightly on the finish, along with a mild spiciness that complemented the up-front sweetness very well.  This is also a thicker feeling bourbon than regular Maker's Mark, causing its flavors to linger much longer, providing that much more enjoyment.

My only critique is that I only wish I could buy it in larger bottles (I'd buy it by the gallon!).  That being said, there may be something to the notion that it allows the distiller to make a limited release more available to consumers.  This bottle went way to quickly, though, which was a bummer because I really didn't want the bottle to end.  Despite the small bottle and high price, I found this one to be worth every penny--an absolutely great bourbon!

Grade: A

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Booker's Kentucky Straight Bourbon 7 Year

I can't tell you how many times I've passed this bourbon on the shelves, in its fancy box, thinking I need to give it a try.  For whatever reason, though, I've always found something else to try, perhaps not wanting to be victim to some gimmick packaging serving no purpose other than marketing.

Eventually, though, I had to give it a try.  After all, it has consistently received good reviews, is produced the Jim Beam distillery, and is bottled at barrel strength.  It was really only a matter of time.

After opening the box (which I now have no idea what to do with--perhaps my son can find some use for it), I grabbed the bottle out and immediately notice the dark color, usually a good sign for me.

After peeling off the wax, I was immediately hit with the alcohol smell, though the traditional vanilla and spice notes of bourbon were just as prevalent.

This particular batch (No. 2014-06) was aged for 7 years, 2 months and 14 days and was bottled at 127.7 proof, and just as with any high proof bourbon, it was very much a sipper with a lot of burn.  That being said, this bourbon is full of flavor, and once the alcohol dissipates a bit, the flavors hit the pallate hard!

It has a high rye flavor up front, which is followed by black pepper and mint (a flavor I've found I suprisingly really enjoy in whiskey).  This bourbon is a great blend of sweetness, spice and burn.

Interestingly, I couldn't help but notice what I can only describe as a distinct flavor of yellow cake of pound cake that tended to linger in the back of my throat.  It perhaps lingered a bit because this is a thicker bourbon, with a certain "chewiness" to it.

While I usually find that bourbons tend to come into their flavor after being opened for a bit, I found the flavor profile on this one did not change at all, tasting very much the same from the first pour to the last.  Overall, this is an excellent bourbon, certainly worth going back to the well for.

Grade: B+/A-