I think my esteem for this bottle begins with the brand name. For starters, I'm glad they told us Grand Dad is old. I don't know anyone with a young Grand Dad, but they're certainly not bullshitting you as to his age.
And there's no bullshit, incidentally, when it comes to the age of this whiskey. It's at least four years old, even though it doesn't print that number anywhere on the label. I'll tell you how I know.
Bourbons labeled "Bottled in Bond" (sometimes just "bonded" for short) hearken back to a day when there was indeed a lot of bullshit surrounding bourbons. Signed into law in 1897, the Bottled in Bond Act specified that bourbons had to be made in one distilling season, at one distillery, aged for at least four years, kept under lock and key at a government-bonded warehouse, and that nothing could be added to the distillery's bourbon except for water.
Prior to the passage of the act, one can only guess at the amount of brass-balled shenanigans taking place at your average Kentucky distillery. Cut it with paint thinner? Sure! Batch together a bunch of whiskeys sourced from somewhere else and give it a crazy mark-up? Sure! Age it for some unspecified amount of time? Sure! Make it super weak? Why not?
Actually, come to think of it, aside from the paint thinner thing, everything else is basically de rigeur among craft spirits these days.
In any case, your dear old grand dad certainly isn't going stand for that caliber of bullshit. Now, I'll confess to some hipster irony on my part for going out of my way to buy and try a what is literally a Grandpa whiskey. But more importantly, the key factor here is that the "bonded" designation on this bottle signifies a craft product aimed at a savvy consumer, even if it's an archaic turn of phrase.
So value's on our side at about $20, but is it any good? For someone who's lukewarm on most bourbons in general, I'll be honest: I am extremely surprised by how much I enjoy this.
As a Kentucky bourbon, be aware there are a lot of unapologetic hallmarks here. It's corn heavy, that's for sure. It fills the mouth with big, buttery corn and you can smell it coming from a ways off. But unlike other bourbons, this stuff is most definitely not one-note. On the nose, the Old Grand Dad Bonded tips you off on the high rye content with caraway seeds and pumpernickel bread. A nice start!
Taste-wise, there's a lot complimenting the corn. There are spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, but also star anise, peanuts, and a bit of dill. It's not super heavy-handed on the oak, which something like Knob Creek or Evan Williams Black will throw at you like a brick. All in all, it's rather understated in its presentation, but the 50% ABV ensures you get a lot of flavor delivery.
The best part though? It doesn't finish with that cloying, funky sourness that normally drives me up the goddamn wall when it comes to bourbons. In fact, the finish really amplifies the herbal, easygoing nature of the OGD Bonded and leaves me with a smile rather than a grimace. All pluses!
At $20, there really aren't any nits I can pick here. It tastes better than any other bourbon at this price point and outbats several that are about twice as expensive. You could spend less, but why on earth would you?
Pick up a bottle, and I guarantee you'll have that same sly-ass grin Grand Dad has on the label.