I recall a few years ago how surprised I was to find out that Jim Beam only makes two bourbons. Yes they sell quite a few bottlings but unlike Buffalo Trace and Four Roses they only use two recipes for there regular line of products. Like many distillers they have been experimenting in recent years but aside from rare one time experiments bottled for travel retail like Jim Beam Signature, they only use two recipes for all their bourbon products. Most of their products use the standard Jim Beam recipe. It shows up in Jim Beam White Label, Jim Beam 7 Year old, Jim Beam Black, Knob Creek, Knob Creek Reserve, Bookers, and Bakers. The less known “other” recipe is the Old Grand Dad recipe. All the different bottlings from the Jim Beam recipe vary only in barrel, age, bottling strength, and location. As it goes in the barrel they are all the same. Old Grand Dad is a little different.
The Old Grand Dad brand was purchased by Jim Beam in 1987. Prior to that it was owned by National Distillers Group, their predecessor the American Medicinal Spirits Company, the Wathen family, and all the way back to 1840 when the original owners, the Hayden family, first started commercially distilling. The brand was started by Raymond Hayden and named after his grandfather. The grandfather’s name was Basil Hayden. You may have noticed that I didn’t include Basil Hayden in the roll call of Jim Beam recipe brands above. That’s because it’s the only Small Batch Collection bourbon not made from the the Jim Beam recipe. It’s Old Grand Dad through and through. It’s just aged 8 years and watered down to 80 proof.
I thought it would be fun to focus on this “lesser” side of the Jim Beam bourbon empire. The Old Grand Dad recipe shows up in Old Grand Dad, Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond, Old Grand Dad 114, and of course Basil Hayden. We will be focusing our reviews on these four bourbons for the month of June. I personally find Old Grand Dad’s iterations a little smoother and easier to drink than Jim Beam. I hope you venture out and give them a try.
We’ve also still got some various samples rolling in to the Whisk(e)y Apostle Fortress of Solitude so look for our thoughts on Big Bottom Whiskey and Balblair too. And! We may even see Matt getting back in the saddle this month.
Drink wisely my friends,