Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Basil Hayden is part of the Small-Batch Collection that is produced by parent company Jim Beam.  Basil Hayden’s recipe makes use of the Old Grand-Dad high rye mashbill; it has been aged up to eight years and is bottled at 80 Proof (40%ABV).  The bourbon earns its name after the man Basil Hayden, SR who in 1785 led a group of fellow Catholics from the Commonwealth of Maryland to what is now Bardstown, KY; the region of Kentucky that many bourbon distilleries today call home. Hayden would later on become a distiller and was known for using a higher amount of rye grain in his mash, giving his whiskey a more pronounced peppery heat. Two generations later, Hayden’s grandson would go on to found his own distillery and whiskey known as Old Grand-Dad that uses the same high rye formula and bears a picture of Basil Hayden on its label. Out of the entire Small Batch Collection released by Jim Beam, Basil Hayden is the lightest and least strong of its brothers (Knob Creek, Booker’s and Baker’s).

Color: Although the color is somewhere around that of a darker straw; it is very light in color for a bourbon whiskey.

Nose: There is a really great potent nose on this. Intoxicating aromas of dark brown sugar and creamy vanilla that is so strong; my wife was able to smell it from across the table.

Body: Once again very, very light for bourbon, and honestly a bit too light for me.

Palate: Really, nothing too exciting to write about here. There is a light floral note that is slightly deeper than an Irish whiskey, and it fades much quicker than it arrived. Very disappointing.

Finish: Tragically this is the best part of the experience. There is a nice peppery tinge you get on the tongue from the higher rye concentration that leads to nice warmth in your chest; however much like the initial taste, it is gone before you have a chance to really savor anything.

Wow this is really disappointing folks; I understand that this is the “lighter” of the Small Batch whiskies by Beam, but light doesn’t have to be synonymous with boring. Aside from the very interesting history of the whiskey and packaging, there is absolutely nothing interesting about this bourbon. While it has a great nose and finish, everything else about it is flat, dull and boring. At $40 a bottle you deserve much more that what this delivers. Unless you are looking to make a really overpriced whiskey and coke, this does not deserve to be on your shelf.


*photo is not my own