Old Grand-Dad Bonded Review

This is a core expression in the Old Grand-Dad line from Jim Beam which is bottled at 50% ABV.

Nose: Very sweet and full of fruit punch and bananas – slightly reminiscent of Brown-Forman banana notes. Honey and a very mild oak round out the profile.

Palate: Funky oak with cinnamon up front before turning into sour, fermented fruits and ginger. Quite dry and yeasty overall.

Finish: Sour, rotten apples with an acrid oak with cloves.

Rating: 66/100 – The nose was promising for a budget bourbon, but things fell apart quickly for me on palate/finish. It was genuinely hard to go back to after the first few sips as the finish was so off-putting. Quite surprised by this as I really enjoy some other OGD expressions (especially OGD 114).

Value for the money: It only retails for $20-$25, so not a big investment, but based on my experience with this sample, I would not recommend it in general.

Jim Beam Signature Craft 11 Year Soft Red Wheat Review

This is an 11 year expression that was part of the Harvest Bourbon Collection where Jim Beam experimented with different grains. This is bottled at 45% ABV.

Nose: Fresh wheat grains and heavy cloves and cinnamon mingle with virgin oak and yeast rolls. Smells quite young – would’ve guessed this was 5-6 years old if it didn’t have an 11 year statement.

Palate: Stale caramels with delicate wheat, banana runts, and marshmallows. It’s a bit rough around the edges overall with the oak tasting a bit young/off.

Finish: Wave of butterscotch at first followed by green (new/young) oak notes – fades quickly.

Rating: 83/100 – Not bad, but the low proof probably holds it back a fair amount. Overall tastes much younger than it is which isn’t necessarily a good thing in this case.

Value for the money: I believe these retail around $55-$60 and I would pass at that price.

Booker’s Rye Review

This is a 13 year rye recently released as a limited edition from Jim Beam. It’s bottled at 68.1% ABV.

Nose: Meaty rye with heavy oak laced with tobacco. Malt chocolate and grape cough syrup emerge after a bit in the glass.

Palate: Very oily – strong yeast and bold rye lead off with an herbal oak profile developing. Fairly subdued heat wise given the high proof. Bitter chocolate develops after a few sips.

Finish: Mostly rye and oak as the heat dials up here.

Rating: 87/100 – A solid rye, but a bit too dark and oak heavy all around for me compared to some other slightly younger ryes.

Value for the money: These retail for $299, and I’m very glad I passed at that price. There’s been a lot of discussion about the price and shark-jumping in the bourbon world. I’d have to agree with the critics on this one as in no way does this rye warrant that high of a retail price let alone anything above it on the secondary. Buy yourself a Colonel E.H. Taylor Rye for about 1/4 the price and call it a day.


Jim Beam Black Review

This is part of Jim Beam’s core range of expressions. It’s an 8 year bourbon bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Yeast, buttered rye bread, freshly sawn oak, and tobacco smoke.

Palate: Buttery, rich and yeasty with nice pepper and earthy notes from the rye.

Finish: Not much here sadly – a bit of cornmeal and a slight isopropyl note.

Rating: 84/100

Value for the money: These retail around $20 and it’s hard to go wrong at that price.

Old Grand-Dad 114 Review

OGD 114 is one of the core expressions from Jim Beam. It’s a high rye bourbon that’s bottled at 57% ABV.

Nose: Classic Beam yeast profile – fresh baked, warm rye bread. Quite a bit of corn coming through as well alongside vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel.

Palate: Freshly sawn oak – you can tell it’s on the younger side. Barrel char and rye mingle with brown sugar and vanilla.

Finish: Mostly oak and rye with a dash of vanilla.

Rating: 86/100

Value for the money: One of the best budget bourbons out there as this can usually be found for around $25-$30.

Jacob’s Well Review

This is a discontinued Jim Beam expression that was a bit controversial when it was heralded as a “micro-distilled” bourbon. Chuck Cowdery called them out and ended up losing access to Beam for awhile. It’s a 7 year old bourbon bottled at 42% ABV.

Nose: Some familiar Beam yeast, but different than newer Beam expressions. Heavy rye notes but slightly sweet like a whole grain bread.

Palate: Very fruity up front with earthy rye kicking in. Blueberry syrup, almonds, very little oak.

Finish: Astringent with rye and oak.

Rating: 84/100 – This was short-lived when it was released, but we’re not missing out on much with it being gone.

Value for the money: I paid $35 for this which is reasonable for what it is.

Booker’s Roundtable (Batch 2013-6) Review

This was the first of the roundtable batches – essentially a selection by a bunch of big bourbon names including Chuck Cowdery. This particular batch is 7.5 years old and bottled at 62.95% ABV.

Nose: Very sweet with classic beam yeast. French toast, fresh oak, peanuts, cinnamon, and cloves.

Palate: Wow -heat is staggering. Some oak, grape jelly, brown sugar, but mostly the heat just dominates sadly.

Finish: Peanuts, creamed corn, young oak.

Rating: 81/100 – While it’s only 63%ish, I find the heat to just be over the top unfortunately.

Value for the money: As with most Booker’s, this retailed for about $50. I would pass on this particular batch again, but $50 remains a good deal for Booker’s in general.

Booker’s 25th Anniversary Review

This was a limited NAS Booker’s release that is bottled at 65.4% (although the age/ABV range varied).

Nose: Super nutty like a bag of trail mix up front. Yeast, vanilla, burnt sugar and a hint of strawberries.

Palate: Very sweet – lots of caramel. The oak comes through more than nose and vanilla persists.

Finish: Very short – oak and sweet caramel fade quickly.

Rating: 87/100 – I noticed this one improved a bit after being opened for a month or two.

Value for the money: At retail ($99) it was an ok buy, but secondary is $300+ which is too much. Save some money and buy a regular Booker’s for $50.