Buffalo Trace vs Old Grand Dad 114​ Comparison

Buffalo Trace vs Old Grand Dad 114

Alex author
by: ALEX WANG
Founder, writer
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Battle of sub-$30(ish) bourbons

I think it’s somewhat accurate to say that most people wants a great sub-$30 bourbon to enjoy more frequently, and Buffalo Trace and Old Grand 114 often come up in that conversation. Buffalo Trace, is well Buffalo Trace, so it inevitably gets talked about and shown-off as a find.
Old Grand Dad 114 is one of the most affordable and higher ABV bourbons with its own cult-like following and claims of it being the best “budget” bourbon. Since I have both, it seems like a good idea to compare them to determine which is the “better” affordable, but not always easy to find, option. And if you’ve pondered that yourself, I’m here to help.
While I’ve reviewed both bourbons separately, I have no idea what’s going to come of this comparison. I gave them the same “Mid Shelf” rating and about the same numerical score (that I don’t show).
I’m most curious about whether the 12% ABV difference will overwhelm Buffalo Trace. I generally don’t like to compare whiskeys with that great of a difference in ABV, but I care more about the better “value” / “bang for your buck” given the similar-ish prices. In that way, the ABV difference makes this even more interesting.

So in the battle of somewhat everyday $30ish bourbons (because they’re both not so easy to obtain), let’s find out who wins in this Buffalo Trace vs Old Grand Dad 114 comparison.

The table below outlines the two bourbons.
buffalo trace vs old grand dad 114 bottle details
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As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for my reviews and comparisons (because they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

How do they compare?

buffalo trace vs old grand dad 114 radar
buffalo trace vs old grand dad 114 traits

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And the winner is...

buffalo trace bourbon review
I’m once again shocked at how different Buffalo Trace and Old Grand Dad 114 are, and how much more I (emphasis on I) prefer Buffalo Trace. I assumed that Old Grand Dad, with its extra 12% ABV, would offer stronger and denser scents and flavors that would make Buffalo Trace smell and taste thin and bland. Oh boy I was very wrong.
Before I get ahead of myself, I’m still not saying that Buffalo Trace is an amazing bourbon. I’m mainly saying that Buffalo Trace is way way way more interesting and enjoyable than the comparably priced Old Grand Dad 114. It’s reverse proof snobbery.
I’ll start off where there’s some overlap between the two: the earthiness. Both have earthy caraway seed, candied ginger, and a little rosemary, but they mostly diverge after that.
Buffalo Trace has somewhat earthy and herbal-forward sweetness and fruitiness (cherry, apple, orange) that for the most part is quite nice. It’s generally balanced across the board, with actually decent roundness and viscosity.
The earthiness is just a bit unbalanced in the flavors, which keeps it from being a “Mid Shelf+” bourbon. But you know what, I can agree that Buffalo Trace is pretty good, so I can smell and sip it neat with no problem.
Going from Buffalo Trace to Old Grand Dad 114 feels like being yanked in the opposite direction. Every time, Old Grand Dad 114 gives me a wallop of very earthy (caraway seed, ginger), dry, vegetal, grainy, and spicy scents and flavors. I knew it was earthy, but having Buffalo Trace first boosts that contrast even more, and I don’t like it.
It’s one dimensional, unbalanced, kind of unpleasant, oddly thin, and underdeveloped in comparison. The added ABV provides more heat, but it doesn’t seem to do anything else. Buffalo Trace exposes those underlying flaws at a “paltry” 45%.
Going back to Buffalo Trace strengthens how fruity, sweet, varied, viscous, round, and enjoyable it is, making it feel EH Taylor Single Barrel-esque. It passes the very important taste test – the scents and flavors retain most of their character after samping Old Grand Dad 114, so Buffalo Trace overcomes the lower ABV.
Okay, the flavors are slightly dulled because the difference in ABV still matters a little bit, but it’s not enough to shift my opinion in favor of Old Grand Dad. As I keep going back and forth, Old Grand Dad gets more unpleasant and unenjoyable. Based on all of that, Buffalo Trace has to be the winner.
I’ve had Old Grand Dad 114 over and over for my review and multiple comparisons, and I still don’t get the allure. As much as I want it to be an amazing option and tell everyone that it’s worth buying, I just can’t get there.
Sure it’s relatively affordable and the ABV is a bonus, but it doesn’t actually make it better to drink. Cocktails are a totally different thing though, so I reserve judgment on that part.
After this, I can better appreciate what Buffalo Trace has done and tip my imaginary hat to them for making a solid $25 bourbon. Unfortunately, I like Old Grand Dad 114 less now.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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If you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Shattered glass Glencairn’s really suck. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)

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