A Tale of Two Bonded Beams
Today we are comparing two bonded Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys, Old Grand-Dad Bonded and Jim Beam Bonded. Both of these bourbons are produced by Beam Suntory at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Claremont, Kentucky. However, that is where the similarities end and the differences begin.
Jim Beam Bonded is a new offering in the Beam lineup and was released in the fall of 2014. This bourbon uses the same mashbill (75/15/10) and yeast as the rest of the Beam products including the Jim Beam lineup (except Rye), Bookers, Bakers, the Knob Creek lineup (except Rye), and Old Crow. To be labeled and sold as a Bonded bourbon, the distillery has to follow the regulations defined in the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. Interesting enough, the bottle of Jim Beam Bonded that was used for this review is actually missing the distillery DSP number on the label. Chuck Cowdery was able to get confirmation from Beam Suntory that the labels would be corrected and that "the product was distilled, aged, and bottled entirely at DSP-KY-230." Thanks, Chuck.
The Old Grand-Dad line was acquired in 1987 when the National Distillers Group was sold to Beam (then known as Fortune Brands which eventually became Beam, Inc.). Shortly thereafter the Old Grand-Dad distillery (DSP-KY-14) was shut down and production was moved to the Beam distillery. However, DSP-KY-14 is still used today for aging and bottling. Beam is also rumored to be producing the OGD lineup (as well as Basil Hayden's) with the same mashbill and yeast that was used at DSP-KY-14. This is a brand that has been in production since 1840 and has managed to survive prohibition and multiple ownership changes.
Old Grand-Dad Bottled In Bond
Paid: $23.25 pre tax, 1 Liter
Age: At least 4 years
Mashbill: 60% Corn/30% Rye/10% Barley (Best guess as the Jim Beam mashbills are officially secret)
Pour: 2 oz neat Scottish Glencairn
Nose: Starts out with nilla wafers and lots of unsalted cashew halves followed by graham crackers. Finally ground cinnamon and ground white pepper.
Palate: Salted cashews, more graham crackers, foamed cashew milk, and old ground nutmeg. Very creamy mouthfeel.
Finish: Dulche de leche, spearmint and baking spices. Some light heat that lingers after the individual flavors drop off.
Jim Beam Bottled In Bond
Paid: $24.95 pre tax, 1 Liter
Age: At least 4 years
Mashbill: 75% Corn/15% Rye/10% Barley (Best guess as the Jim Beam mashbills are officially secret)
Pour: 1.5 oz neat Scottish Glencairn
Nose: Vanilla, honey roasted peanuts, graham crackers, nutmeg and the finally a hint of citrus at the end - kumquats and lemons.
Palate: Caramel, graham crackers, roasted peanuts, misc baking spices.
Finish: Unsalted Virginia peanuts, more misc baking spices and mint. Some heat and nutty flavors linger.
Winner: Old-Grand Dad Bonded
OGD has a bit more of the nutty Beam funk that I love so much. There were no flaws in the JB BIB however the flavors just seem to be more muted when compared in a head to head tasting with OGD BIB. These two have a lot of similarities considering the grainbills and yeast strains are different. The Beam grainbills are kept secret and therefore are speculative. However, Beam products have a very distinct nutty characteristic that I have yet to find in other bourbons. It's possible that the Beam and OGD yeasts share a lineage which produce that nutty flavor characteristics.
Both of these bourbons are solid everyday sippers and the higher proof will stand up well in mixers. The price difference between these two is negligible however I have heard there has been a slight price increase for the OGD BIB since the label redesign. At around $24 these are a bit pricier than other BIB options and I find Evan Williams BIB at around $14 to be a better value.
- Mark @ Entry Proof