11/30/13 Old Grand Dad BIB and National Distillers OGD 86 side by side. By bottle markings on the bottom of the bottle I think this OGD was bottled in 88, but due to the barcode I know it’s from National Distillers.
For more apples to apples I have diluted the bond to 86 proof with my trusty graduated cylinder and Wolfram Alpha.
OGDBIB: The traditional floral, bready jug yeast notes of beam meld with the anise, ginger, and pepper rye notes of this old school high rye bourbon. Wood comes into play well behind the rye notes. Other notes that linger out include canned cherries and flat coke.
NDOGD: Markedly not Beam. No bready bakery yeast. Slightly more astringent, but it’s welcome. The rye notes are sweeter, bigger cherry notes, some vanilla, sweet oak, and black pepper.
OGDBIB: Again, Beam house style just brands the entire product. Strong sweetened black licorice, light pepper and nutmeg. The downward proof takes the rye notes and that always present Beam DNA and thrusts it out into the middle of the palate; the astringent alcohol notes are not as competitive. Classic water and oil separation mouthfeel that I have noted in the past in tastings of Beam Black.
NDOGD: Cleaner, clearer presentation with a stronger caramel/toffee note that is not present in the modern OGD. Overall the rye notes are again on the sweeter candy side of the spectrum. Corn grain and vanilla seep in at the very end.
OGDBIB: Fleeting rye spice and hints of oak. Oily notes fade fast and a watery, slippery product remains until the end.
NDOGD: A sweet, floral rye quickly and cleanly fades quickly from the experience. Some very late cheap vanilla oil extract bitters hop in there.
Balance: When Beam (Fortune Brands) acquired National Distillers they did more than slap an OGD label on a bottle of Beam White. They kept the at the time non traditional high rye mashbill and bottled a product that was similar to the original. But as we all know there are countless little deviations that make one distillery different than the others. Those little differences make these products reasonably different side by side yet when coming down to it they’re fairly similar in style. If you have to pick one over the other I would let the bias of your priorities decide. If you place value on the past and tradition, consider the National Distillers. If you want to walk into any liquor store today and buy a quality straight bourbon at the price point of a case of part-rice light beer take the Beam OGD. Bottom line, they’re both quality products in their own regards.
I also had a wonderful time trying these side by side with my uncle over Thanksgiving. It was a reminder that good whiskey in the right setting becomes great whiskey.
Stupid letter grades: B+/B+
Would I buy again: BeamOGD Bond: Yes NDOGD: If I find it for the right price yes, if I stumble upon it in a store I’d buy several.