Old Grand Dad Bourbon Explained

There are few bourbons with as rich of a history as Old Grand Dad bourbon. And there are also few that taste better!

Old Grand Dad whiskey bourbon is a drink that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In fact, many whiskey aficionados would actually scoff at the idea of drinking Old Grand Dad. However, its depth and complexity as a drink are often overlooked.

On the bottle, in huge block letters, the phrase “Bottled In Bond” is printed. This label references the unique production standards of the drink. This traditional bourbon from the 1800s is produced during a single distillation season by a single distiller and distillery.

It is also aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years and is bottled at 100 proof. The bottle’s label will also state where it was bottled.

Old Grand Dad is a solid option for even the most seasoned whiskey drinkers. Yet, few people outside of the collector and bartender crowd even know what Old Grand Dad is. As long as this drink continues to be underappreciated, it provides great value for your money. Drinking Old Grand Dad bourbon is also an ideal way to become introduced to high-rye mash bills.

If you’re a fan of whiskey or bourbon, you should definitely become acquainted with this fine drink. Learn more about this classic drink with Saucey below!

Old Grand Dad: A Rich Brand History

The name of this drink comes from the original grandad, Basil Hayden. Hayden was a distiller who revolutionized bourbon whiskey by distilling it with a higher percentage of rye. This process gave the drink a more bold, spicy flavor.

The distillery started by Hayden was eventually handed down to the generations after him. It was his grandson Raymond, a third-generation distiller, who started the Old Grand Dad brand, borrowing from his grandfather’s nickname.

In about 1882, Raymond Hayden worked with a former treasury agent to create a commercial-scale distillery in Hobbs, Kentucky. Hobbs was a stop on the branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, a new, popular method of transportation at the time.

Hayden’s name now is featured on a different bourbon brand, but his portrait still adorns the Old Grand Dad bottle with an inviting smile. It was during this era that the trend of memorializing old distillers on bottles became popular.

During the Prohibition era, the Old Grandad company was one of few alcohol brands allowed to stay in business. In these years, the brand produced medicinal whiskey that people could purchase with a doctor’s prescription. Physicians would sell pints of whiskey for about $3, prescribing it for conditions like high blood pressure, pneumonia, and digestive issues. As stated by the Old Grandad site, “It was a popular time to be sick.”

Over the years, the brand has had several ownership changes and has been produced at several different distilleries. However, they have always been able to meet the demand for their whiskey.

Today, Old Grand Dad is owned by Beam Suntory, a multinational alcohol brand. The drink is made at proofs of 80, 100, and 114. Undoubtedly, the 100 proof “bonded” variation of the drink is the most popular.

How Whiskey Hit The West

Before he was a professional distiller, Basil Hayden was a leader in the migration of Catholics from Maryland to Kentucky in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Catholics traveled west in small groups over a 30-year span, with the intention of settling in what is now the Marion, Nelson, and Washington Counties.

Their goal was to settle close to each other so they could build a tight-knit community. They also wanted to attract a priest to their settlement.

The group was motivated to migrate due to the religious persecution they faced in Maryland. Originally, Maryland was established as a colony for English Catholics. In 1692, the state created the Church of England, forcing all citizens, even non-English Catholics, to pay heavy taxes for it.

Soon after, more restrictions would be placed, outlawing the practice of any religion besides English Catholicism. In addition, non-English Catholics were banned from politics.

At the end of the American Revolution, more room for settlement opened up out west. Many Catholics hit the road in pursuit of religious freedom. The Kentucky Catholics were the first large Catholic group to settle west of the mountains.

Coincidentally, most of the migrants were farmers and distillers. In fact, Basil Hayden was basically your average local distiller.

Old Grand Dad Bourbon explained, Saucey. Photo by Matthias Jordan on Unsplash

Old Grand Dad: Taste Profile

This bourbon has a light, golden hue to it, similar to honey. The bright orange bottle is vibrant and aesthetically pleasing, with a sense of modernness that will look fantastic on any bar.

In terms of taste, you can expect an initial bitterness to Old Grand Dad that takes a few seconds to overcome. But once it passes, you get a delightful profile of caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla, combined with honey, brown butter, and bruleed bananas. The aftertaste is characterized by its fruity notes and is reigned in with a touch of fresh corn.

Though this bourbon is not considered a dessert drink, it has some very sweet qualities to it, and adding water or ice to this whiskey can enhance its caramel and vanilla notes.

Do not be fooled, though; this drink is still very strong. Compared to other 100 proof whiskeys, Old Grand Dad can be a bit more numbing.

On the nose, Old Grand Dad has an oaky aroma, topped off with a touch of chili powder. After smelling it for a while, you may notice hints of rye and orange peel.

An Affordable Price

Although it’s high quality, Old Grand Dad is also extremely affordable. You can easily find a bottle for under $30.

Many bourbon favorites have skyrocketed in price in recent years, doubling or tripling in value.  Nowadays, there are few bargains left to find in the bourbon world, especially when it comes to new releases in the market.

However, in most liquor stores, you can still find the tried-and-true classics for a reasonable price. Next time you’re shopping for liquor, take a look around. You’ll still find Old Grand Dad sitting at the bottom of the shelf, with a relatively low price tag. Despite its low price, this drink uses an identical mash bill as a more premium bourbon, with a 27% rye bill.

Though this whiskey is affordable, it is not a bottle that is going to be found in every liquor store you visit. More than likely, if you do find it, there will probably be a limited supply of it. Generally, only the stores that truly value their classics will carry Old Grand Dad.

Recent Changes to Old Grand Dad

Recently, Old Grand Dad decided to discontinue their 1.75 liter-sized Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Many people saw this move as a strategy to stretch limited supplies of whiskey.

Maker’s Mark, another liquor brand, also discontinued its 1.75 liter-sized bottles a few years ago, though it was only temporary. As of now, it is unknown whether this move by Old Grand Dad is permanent or not.

It is also possible that Old Grand Dad wasn’t selling enough of the bottles to keep them in production. Being that the brand is fairly obscure, this could be a likely scenario. Alternatively, this move could be affected by a multitude of factors.

Some fans of Old Grand Dad worry that this discontinuation is a sign of trouble for the brand. However, Old Grand Dad still continues to perform well overall, year after year. They spend very little money on marketing but still receive business from their cult following.

Old Grand Dad Bourbon Is Worth a New Look

Yes, the price is one of the main allures when buying a bottle of Old Grand Dad. But this classic whiskey has a deep history and an impressive production process.

In addition, this drink provides a layered palate of tastes, as well as a strong punch of texture. This whiskey is absolutely perfect for brown, spirit-based cocktails like the Manhattan or Remember the Maine. Old Grand Dad is the backbone of a strong cocktail. The flavors you get from it are consistent and distinct. It can also be paired nicely with a hearty meal, such as a steak and seafood dinner.

Now that you know everything there is to Old Grand Dad, you can finally give this age-long drink the respect it deserves. There is no reason such a quality, trusted whiskey should be seen on the bottom shelf.

In the future, the whiskey world will surely begin to recognize this classic brand for its contributions to the space. Hopefully, it doesn’t become too popular and spike in price!

For reliable, fast alcohol delivery, turn to Saucey! We offer hundreds of different spirits from a variety of brands. We also carry wines, beers, and other drinks.

From the sunny vistas of Los Angeles to the cracked sidewalks of New York City, Saucey has got you covered. Our service is available in nearly every major city in the United States. Head over to our site and place your order now.

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