Saturday, November 30, 2013

Beam Old Grand Dad and National Distillers Old Grand Dad

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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Amrut Fusion

Amrut Fusion 50% B16 Oct 2011

Nose: Delicate highland inspired malt fused with a manageable quantity of peat. Butterscotch and the slightest hint of volatility. There’s also a weird, crisp (but good) pine note. Some weird wisps of immaturity but I would not consider this product to be immature.

Taste: Well balanced peat and malt. Some aromatic, petrol notes similar to Glenmorangie 10 or a similar highland malt. Some light dried apricot notes. Peat is very light but clearly present and provides a balanced profile. The peat itself is lighter style (think Bruichladdich or Bowmore). A slight background of bourbon oak.

Finish: Peat lingers, transfers to a bitter oak with a full mouthfeel, and a light but noticeable tongue and oak interaction. Fleeting and simple. Hot black pepper on the swallow of the product.

Balance: I used to think this bottle of Amrut Fusion was a step off from some really special bottles of Fusion I’ve had in the past. This session held up pretty well, and I ended up liking this bottle a lot more than I did in the past. Fusion does a great job showing an Asian product looking for Scotland for inspiration but showing its local terroir. There was a time where I would say go for Fusion over any other entry level Amrut (anyone out there that wants to send/trade me a Greedy Angels sample would be amazing) but a recent tasting of Amrut Single Malt warrants a strong recommendation of Amrut SM, too.

Stupid Letter Grade: B

Would I buy again: in time, yes.

Special Product Award for ugly label:


Monday, November 11, 2013

Fighting Cock Bourbon

Nose: Heavy Heaven Hill acetone and baking powder. Smaller leather notes, dark fruit, and hint of citrus rind. A hint of warehouse must. Any rye in the nose is masked pretty well behind all that signature Heaven Hill funk.

Taste: Astringent phenolic and acetone note are the center of this taste profile. The traditional HH oak/phenol must is a little more on the oily side. Hints of rye slide out at end of the palate and begin to take over. Reasonably drinkable at botting proof. Only slightly harsh but based on the fact there’s an angry looking rooster on the bottle I think I’m supposed to get a little bite out of the profile. Some of that heavy wood mouthfeel breaks out at the finish.

Finish: At times clean rye and at times musty oak. A nice dichotomy. Some great rye bitters can be found at the tail end of this product. Heavy oak mouthfeel, some off oak notes can sneak in there.

Balance: The bottling age is unique. A fair amount of the wood influence of HH products is dialed back into balance with the rye, corn, and alcohol notes. Those huge astringent notes are hard to recon with in the initial profile. If you’re a huge Heaven Hill fan you might want to try this one out; otherwise this may be a safe bet to pass this one over. But if you don’t like it you’re not going to miss any sleep over how much you paid for it. (I believe this ran me about 17 dollars). Based on the fact that there’s a bird on the label I think you’re supposed to compare this to Wild Turkey. I would say buy the Wild Turkey.

Stupid Letter Grade: C+

Would I buy again: A purchase I really can’t regret, but I wouldn’t buy again.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013 Old Forrester Birthday Bourbon

11/3/13 Old Forrester 2013 Birthday Bourbon 49%

Nose: The nose is the highlight of the Old Forrester products I’ve tried. There is a considerable medicinal and aromatic profile that has a ‘higher’ nose palate that I could compare to a highland Scotch. The nose is bourbon -- cherry and vanilla oak sweetness forward, followed by a light must and some very hidden rye notes. Remarkably easy to nose at 48% and the age has muted any green notes, but has not contributed any significant, weighted notes.

Taste: Medicinal cherry flavoring and heavy clove. Some significant oak has evaded the nose and complements the bitters and fruits nicely. Traditional rye spice mingles with the wood for a dark chocolate effect. Nose and taste are rather different.

Finish: Dry oak and manhattan bitters take over and the age statement of the bottle contributes to a woody finish. Medicinal notes continue all the way to the dry, delicious end.

Balance: I wasn’t a fan of the 2012 OFBB, I found the phenolic notes to be unbalanced and offsetting. This years has a lot more balance and although it tastes very similar, they are hard to compare. But enough about the others; the 2013 OFBB is an excellent, sweet but balanced bourbon.

Stupid Letter Grade: A

Would I buy again: This is the first bourbon I have ever bunkered.