Being the holidays, the time of year which we associate with family cheer, I feel finally obliged to write an article I have long put off. Any devout readers I may have will likely have forgotten that I went to Phoenix, Arizona in November to visit my father’s family, including my grandfather. While there I was lucky enough to stumble upon the Old Grandad 114 that is the basis for this article in a large liquor store at a very affordable price. I love Old Grandad. Perhaps I will take another article to rant about this love, but suffice it to say I think it is a wonderful and well-articulated bourbon for below vodka prices. I often drink Old Grandad 100, and I’ve heard many a bourbon devotee say that Old Grandad is a standby to them too. So needless to say I was excited to find this rather rare senior centenarian of the clan. For my week in Arizona it provided my main libation, and fulfilled many duties as the main social lubricant and stress reliever of travel and, admittedly, sometime friction with relatives. That also meant that Old Grandad was often in my glass during the fondest moments of the trip, the bonding moments. The times where we sorted through box after box of forgotten photographs trying to identify people fading from memory, and the time we discussed my grandfather’s days as a young hell raiser modifying and racing cars, and, much like myself, drinking too much beer and playing music with buddies. It’s strange to learn that long before your time your grampie had the same passions you had now, that once he had played steel guitar in a band called the New Readville Wranglers (I play slide guitar) and had played weekly with his buddies for a Nashua, New Hampshire radio station (I was once a DJ myself). One night when I broke out my guitar I played him a Hank Williams song, and he sang along. It’s these moments that people cherish about the holidays, and often libations are present at such moments, a part of that warm feeling. Which brings me to a public service announcement: don’t drink neat OG 114 at a holiday party. You’ll get drunk off your ass and perhaps mess or ruin those tender moments. But in my case it wasn’t so much the holidays, and the word play of drinking Old Grandad with my (non-drinking) grandfather and the unforeseen parallels of our youths have left me with a very fond memory. I also have a rather fond memory of that Old Grandad 114. I took some notes while it knocked me on my ass, so let me give the people what they want, my impressions of the whiskey. If you wanted to skip nostalgic bullshit, this is where you should stop reading.
Fortunately I had the foresight when taking these notes to realize that most people don’t have the stomach, throat or desire to drink 57% alcohol whiskey neat. So I have tasting with and without ice for you and instead of my normal descriptions and metaphors and puffy language, I’ve decided to give you a direct image of my notes, so you can see my thoughts at their rawest. Below the photograph is a transcript, because my handwriting is rawer than my thoughts.
OG 114 w/ ice
T: Mollasses(sic), Cocoa, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, sweet (soft?) heat
N: Nail Acetone, Vanilla, caramel?, sweet
Fin: Light sweetness, vanilla,
Entry? – refreshing cool evaporative
-N Crème Broulee (sic) + heat
-T Burn back throat, vanilla, toffee, caramel
-F Drunkeness-Sweet Brown Sugar
So there you have it, the results of taking tasting notes on 114 proof whiskey after several beers and several whiskies is chaos. This booze writing thing may be fun, but it isn’t always easy. Also, perhaps I should tell you in case my notes weren’t clear—I loved this. I loved it neat and straight. I loved the price, the unpretentiousness, the cajones of it. Perhaps it was a bit of brand favoritism, perhaps it was the surrounding, the warm nostalgia—perhaps I was slightly hammered, but I was enamored by Old Grandad 114 and I recommend it to anyone wanting a bold whiskey, and if it seems somehow below your normal price considerations just buy several bottles and send me one.