Basil Hayden’s is produced by Beam Suntory and is one of their small batch bourbons, the others being Knob Creek, Booker’s and Baker’s. Unlike the others, it has a lower alcohol concentration, 40% ABV. The producers claim Basil Hayden’s uses a mash similar to the one its namesake used in 1792. It seems, Basil was one of the first to introduce rye grain into the corn grain to achieve a “high rye bourbon”. The rye gives it that gentle yet spicy flavor so typical of a good Canadian rye whisky.
Some consider its low alcohol level a drawback, making it a less robust Bourbon than it small batch siblings. I would suggest you drink this one neat and forgo the rocks. The ice may subdue the subtle complexities rendering it somewhat flavorless. However, Basil Hayden’s makes an excellent cocktail since its flavor profile compliments rather than overwhelms the other ingredients.
One thing is for sure, you will not have a hard time finding Basil Hayden’s on the shelf. It has very elaborate packaging and comes in a slender bottle wrapped in paper. It even has a small metal band with a “BH” logo holding it all together. Capped with silver foil over the cork gives it a special appearance and sets it apart from the competition.
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
Producer: Jim Beam Distillery
Origin: Kentucky, USA
Price Range: $$
Awards: San Francisco World spirits competition (2005, 06, 07, 08, 09, 11); Beverage Testing Institute (2005, 10, 11) 88; Wine Enthusiast 2004 (80-84) 2005 (80-84) 2015 (93)
Tasting Notes —
Color: Golden amber
Nose: Spice, tea, hint of peppermint
Palette: Spicy, peppery, honey, light-bodied, gentle bite
Finish: Dry, clean, brief
$$$$$ = Greater than $100
$$$$ = $80 – 100
$$$ = $50 – 80
$$ = $30 – 50
$ = Less than $30
Further Ratings & Reviews
There are many websites and blogs that do an excellent job of reviewing and rating whiskies. As mentioned above The Whiskybits Composite Score is based on an average of at least three reviews conducted by industry leaders. The reviews sites normally referenced include The LA Whisk(e)y Society, The Whisky Reviewer, Proof 66, The Whisky Advocate and The Whisky Jug.