Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Review

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Review

This bottle of Old Grand-Dad 86 proof is from about 2003 (’03 stamp on bottle) which was about 10 years before they cut the proof down to 80. The 86 was cut down to 80 so that Jim Beam could get more bottles of whiskey out of each barrel they produced and it subsequently made for a lighter whiskey since cutting proof means they’re just adding more water.

Even though the 86 proof was no shining prize, it was better than what the current 80 is and it’s a shame that it’s not still around since it’s one of the three proof levels OGD has been bottled at for decades. The other two proofs being 100 (BiB) and 114.

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 63% Corn, 27% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Cask: New charred oak
Age: NAS
ABV: 43%

Price: NA – “Dusty”

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Review

Brassy copper

The aroma of the Old Grand-Dad 86 proof is great. Rich caramel heavy dark sweets, corn, oak, vanilla, leather, pepper and a touch of yeast and waxy fruit. Multi-dimensional and engaging it’s a whiskey I could happily just sit and sniff.

The flavor is a complete 180 of the nose. The corn is raw and course, caramel is watery, spice is stale and dusty, vanilla comes across more like an imitation, citrus is sweet and syrupy and the oak is old and worn. Dismal taste experience.

Long and unattractive – dusty oak ending layered with notes of marshmallows and caramel coffee syrup.

Not well balanced, thin body with a weak and watery texture.

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof isn’t made anymore and that’s not really a crime. The nose is rich, dense and fantastic, but the palate is disappointing and the finish is unappealing. In a group blind tasting at my house of 9 Old Grand-Dads this was tied with the 80 proof for least favorite of the night with everyone saying the same thing. The nose is great, but the palate and finish are noticeably less-than-great. Not a fan… but I do like it more than the current 80.

SCORE: 78/100

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 87
  • Palate - 76
  • Finish - 74
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 75


Old Grand-Dad 86 proof can still be found on the shelves of little liquor stores and my advice is to leave it there unless you’re picking it up for curiosities sake.

Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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10 Responses to Old Grand-Dad 86 proof Review

  1. Where I live (British Columbia, Canada) only the 80 proof version of Old Grand Dad is available, and I bought a bottle a few months ago even though I had seen plenty of condemnations of this whiskey on-line. I expected little, but I actually liked it. I have said before in the comments here that I am really partial to rye and the the higher-rye bourbons, and OGD 80 tastes more like a straight rye than any other high-rye bourbon I have had. I am not saying that I prefer it to Four Roses Small Batch or Single Barrel, or even Bulleit Bourbon, but I enjoyed it and consider it damn good value for the price. The last bourbon I bought was a Jim Beam Black (trying it for the first time), and I’ll take OGD 80 over the similarly-priced JBB any day of the week.

      • Yes, I am sure the 100 and 114 proof would be even better (probably a lot better). You would shake your head in disbelief if you knew just how small the selection is in BC when it comes to American whiskey. The number of brands is probably under 40. But wouldn’t you know it, one of the brands is Templeton Rye! (Which I have avoided buying, because of what you have written about those scammers.)

  2. Hi Josh!

    I had been drinking 86 proof OGD since the late sixties. It really isn’t so bad, especially as an old fashioned.
    The 80 proof is no comparison and even now that is unavailable.

    But I was lucky. I found 3 handles and 4 fifths in two out of the way liquor stores. Handles bottled in ’08 and the fifths in 2009.

    What would you recommend to replace 86 OGD? Evan Williams 1783?



    • Hey David. To replace the 86 I’d honestly recommend the Four Roses Yellow. It’s only 40%, but it’s a high rye bourbon like OGD and I think has much more character than the EW 1783 or the OGD 80. Cheers!

  3. Just picked up a bottle of this on a whim, question you dated your bottle with the bottle stamp of 03 do you recall where on the bottle the stamp was there are two numbers on the bottom of the bottle I picked up on the left 01 and the right 99 nothing else would make sense as year. Also grabbed a BIB with 02 and 03 in the same places, my guess is this is a date range for the stamp? Thanks.

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