Basil Hayden’s: 40% abv
Background: Basil Hayden’s is one of the four bourbons in the Jim Beam Small Batch family, and sits at 8 years old. This one is known as the lightest of the four bourbons, as is indicated by the proof of the whiskey, being at a modest 80 proof (40%). The Basil Hayden’s bourbon is named from Basil Hayden, Sr. who was a Maryland Catholic who led 25 Catholic families into Kentucky. Turns out, Hayden was also a distiller (who would have thunk?) who used a large amount of rye in his batches. His grandson Raymond Hayden founded a distillery known as Old Grand-Dad, which we still see bottling bourbon today. Here’s the deal: this bourbon is made by Jim Beam. All this history just tells you where it came from. Let’s see what it turns out to be like.
Nose: Oak, corn, subtle rye, wheat, honey, cinnamon sugar, mint, allspice
A/W: More Floral
Arrival: Light honey, oak, caramel, vanilla, sweet, thin
Body: Sweet, light, honey, mint, ginger, corn, caramel
A/W: Big oak, sweet, lightly floral
Finish: Herbal, mint, cherry sweetness, wheat, hot cinnamon, rye, oak, vanilla, dry, medium length
Final Comments: Basil Hayden’s is clearly not the most complex bourbon on the market, and you pay quite a penny for it. It starts to beg the question, then, if it is worth the money. The positive part is that it has a good balance of flavors, it is a sweet bourbon, and it is certainly a quality whiskey. The bad news is that it is expensive and it isn’t an engaging whiskey.
Why you’d buy it: It’s a smooth alternative to regular bourbon and you like having a nice social status.
Why you wouldn’t: You want to pay less for more, and Buffalo Trace exists.