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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Jim Beam Heritage Whiskey

Jim Beam Heritage Whiskey Brands added to the jim Beam range with their 1987 purchase of National Distillers Group


Old Crow Sour Mash Bourbon

Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

Old Overbolt Straight Rye Whiskey

Also Makers Mark which is covered on its own page


Old Crow Sour Mash Straight Bourbon 

Takes its name from the inventor of the sour mash process, A  Dr. James C. Crow. In fact, in 1835 Old Crow bourbon was the first bourbon to develop this process that today, has become standard practise in the bourbon industry. Old Crow is the original sour mash bourbon.


The term “sour mash” is frequently misunderstood. "Sweet" mash whiskey is distilled by using fresh water to begin the fermentation, while "sour" mash includes the addition of the mash from a previous distillation. This results in a slightly sweeter and heavier bodied whiskey; it is not at all sour as the term suggests.


Founder Dr. James C. Crow, a Scottish immigrant, started distilling what became  Old Crow in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the 1830s. Regarded as a very skilled distiller, he was employed to make whiskey for various people, which was sold as "Crow" or when it was allowed to age, "Old Crow" It was the latter that gained its well known quality reputation.


He passed away  in 1856, and while W.A. Gaines and Company kept the name and continued to distil the bourbon according to his recipe, the original distillation formula died with its creator.  


The last remaining stock of Dr Crow's distilled Old Crow  acquired near-legendary status, and offering drinks of it allegedly secured a re-election for Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn, senator for Kentucky.


The Old Crow's logo, a crow perched atop grains of barley, is rumoured to stem as a symbol bridging the North and South during the Civil War.


During the Civil War, regiments from both the North and the South frequently received rations of bourbon. Some historians like to argue that General U.S. Grant received more than his fair share, although his drinking has always been exaggerated. Legend has it that after the battle of Shiloh, in which the Union suffered staggering losses, Grant’s critics came out in legion and went to President Lincoln and demanded Grant’s head, charging that he lacked leadership and drank too much.


Lincoln, always a Grant supporter, was reported to have said, “Find out what kind of whiskey he drinks, and send a barrel to my other generals.” Grant, of course, drank Old Crow.


A Pennsylvania brigade training at State College, Pennsylvania thought Old Crow was the only good thing to ever come out of the south. Fearing never being able to drink Old Crow again, the soldiers wrote Lincoln proclaiming "We must not let the fine gentleman Old Crow escape. Remember Mr. President, the crow with the sharpest talons holds on to barley forever." After the War the logo was changed from a picture of James Crow to the current crow holding on to barley.


The Bourbon was popular with the rich and famous, recorded as being served in the presidential homes of Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Old Crow was also enjoyed and praised by the likes of Walt Whitman, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Jack London and Mark Twain.


A dispute over ownership of the name "Old Crow" was decided in 1915 in favour of the Gaines company.


Although the whiskey had been, at one time, the top selling bourbon in the United States, it underwent a swift decline in the second half of the twentieth century. A production error in the amount of "setback" (the portion of spent mash added to a new batch in the sour mash process) negatively affected the taste of the whiskey, and the distiller's inability or unwillingness to correct it led to many drinkers moving on to other brands.


Parent company National Distillers sold to Jim Beam in 1987; the Old Crow recipe and distillery were not kept and the product after this would be a three-year-old bourbon based on the Jim Beam mashbill.


Now a budget brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, along with the slightly higher quality, but still inexpensive Old Crow Reserve  both distilled by Jim Beam Inc.. Old Crow is aged in barrels for three years, and bottled at 80 proof while Old Crow Reserve is aged for four years and is 86 proof.


Old Grand-Dad Bourbon Whiskey 

The original “Old Grand-Dad” was Basil Hayden who made his name by distilling bourbon with a higher percentage of rye in the mashbill. Basil Hayden passed along the art of distilling to his son and then, in turn, to his grandson, a Colonel R.B. Hayden, the third generation distiller who honoured his grandfather by naming by then famed whiskey “Old Grand-Dad.” who is depicted on the label of each bottle, First bottled in 1882.


The Hayden family's first commercial distillery was founded in 1840, and  the bourbon has been in production ever since despite several changes of ownership and distillery. In 1899 the Old Grand-Dad brand/distillery? was sold to the Wathen family, whose extensive interests in the whiskey business went on to establish the American Medicinal Spirits Company that developed into the National Distillers Group.


This company survived prohibition by producing "medicinal whiskey" for sick, blind, and lame patients. In 1987, National Distillers Group sold its spirits business to the Fortune Brands holding company, which became Beam Inc.


Old Grand-Dad is one of  the best-selling straight whiskeys of all time and has  plenty of book film and music credits.


Nick Stefanos novels by George P. Pelecanos,

John Hawkes's classic novel Second Skin

Morgan Kane, western book series created by Kjell Hallbing under the pseudonym Louis Masterson.

Old Grand-Dad is also drunk by James Bond in the novel Live and Let Die

Cormac McCarthy's Cities of the Plain novel,

Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel, The Long Goodbye


In films Bad Santa, Jaws II


In Music

The Hank Williams, Jr. song "Women I've Never Had":

Old Grand-Dad is cited in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Whiskey Rock-a-Roller"

George Thorogood references Old Grand-Dad whiskey in his song "I Drink Alone"


President Harry S. Truman's preferred drink was Old Grand-Dad on the rocks.


Available in three different bottling proofs: 80 proof, reduced from 86 proof in 2013, 100 proof "Bonded", and 114 "Barrel Proof" that is in a short-height bottle often made available in a gift box package.


Another of Jim Beams brands  of Kentucky bourbon named after “Old Grandad”  the small batch !”Basil Hayden's”, that is named after the same person.


Old Overbolt Straight Rye Whiskey

Abraham Overholt (1784 - 1870) is regarded of one of the fore-fathers of American distilling. He took uncompromising pride in making his whiskey, He lived by three hard and fast standards – work hard, stand fast, and don’t waver. These standards were the basis upon which he built his distillery and brand,


Originally distilled in Broad Ford, Pennsylvania, 35 miles south-east of Pittsburgh. The company claims to have been established in 1810. Making Old Overholt one of the oldest, Straight Rye Whiskies on the market today. The distinctive flavour and appeal was most popular after Prohibition, due to a lot of the bootleg whiskey available at the time was rye whiskey from Canada and this helped to make it the most popular spirit in the country during the 1920s and 30s


It is one of the few straight rye whiskies available at most liquor stores in the United States.


Aged for three years and bottled at 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).


Parodied in a Warner Brothers cartoon and in the Terry Pratchett novels The Dark Side of the Sun and Soul Music as "Old Overcoat".


It was the so-called "medicinal" alcohol of the United States Navy during World War II.


It is reputed to have been the alcoholic beverage of choice of the gunfighter and gambler Doc Holliday


George Washington made rye whiskey at his Mount Vernon home in Virginia. Indeed, the domestic rye whiskey industry had a proud tradition in the United States. However, it has taken until the turn of the 21th Century for Americans to rediscover this treasure, it is renowned for its outstanding mixability in classic cocktails such as the Sazarac and the “Old Style” Manhattan