Review: Basil Hayden’s 10-Year-Old Bourbon


A few years back, Basil Hayden’s bourbon lost its 8 year age statement.  The brand did a nice job of keeping the flavor profile of its NAS replacement the same, or at least very, very close.  The latest limited edition offering from Basil Hayden is a 10-year-old bourbon.  It’s made from Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill, which is also used in Old Grand Dad.  Bottled at 40% ABV, Basil Hayden 10-year-old bourbon is available for $60, which is about a $20 premium over the brand’s standard bourbon.

The nose features brown sugar, rye spice, and oak.  There’s a bit of charred fruit and slightly herbaceous.  The entry is light, due to the bourbon’s low 80 proof bottling.  Delicate flavors of caramel, toasted rye bread, and oak spice emerge.  A bit of orange rind and nuts add some complexity.  The finish is short-to-medium length with hints of cinnamon sugar, toasted rye grain, and oak.  Compared to the standard Basil Hayden’s, this new 10-year-old offering isn’t as vibrant and showcases darker notes.

Is it good?  Yes.  It’s a nice enough bourbon, and fits in line with other Basil Hayden products.  Jim Beam’s high rye mash bill can be quite delicious, and this whiskey shows it.  The negative side is its low proof, which dampens the entry and diminishes the finish.

Is it worth the price of admission?  No.  Basil Hayden’s low 80 proof doesn’t seem to fit into the current world of high-proof bourbon offerings.  That aside, this bourbon doesn’t offer much more than the very solid standard bottling.  7.5/10

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Review: Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-04 “Kitchen Table”


This past year saw four delicious batches of Booker’s Bourbon.  The last of those batches, 2018-04, is nicknamed “Kitchen Table.”  The name pays homage to one of the late Booker Noe’s favorite places, where batches of Booker’s namesake bourbon were selected.

“Kitchen Table” is 6 years, 8 months, and 7 days old, bottled uncut and unfiltered at 128 proof.  This batch features whiskey from three different production dates with barrels selected from three different warehouses, broken down as follows:

  • 7% from warehouse E, 4th floor
  • 14% from warehouse E, 5th floor
  • 4% from warehouse E, 6th floor
  • 24% from warehouse J, 5th floor
  • 44% from warehouse J, 6th floor
  • 7% from warehouse D, 6th floor

The nose is classic Booker’s, prominently showcasing vanilla with hints of toasted oak, brown sugar, and honey-roasted peanuts.  The palate closely follows the nose, with peanut brittle, vanilla, and dark fruits.  There’s a nice amount of oak on the back palate, as well some herbs.  Interestingly,  the palate isn’t as sweet as the nose would suggest.  The long finish features hints of cocoa, roasted nuts, and caramel.

All in all, “Kitchen Table” is another solid batch of Booker’s.  It is heavy with that Jim Beam nutty note, which is what differentiates it from other recent batches.  Otherwise, it’s pretty well balanced and quite an enjoyable dram.  Booker’s remains a high quality, cask strength whiskey.  Buy with confidence.  8.5/10

Thanks to Jim Beam for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Dovetail

Barrell Craft Spirits have taken barrel-finishing to a level rarely seen in the American whiskey category with their new release, Dovetail.  It is a blend of 10-year-old Indiana whiskey finished in Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon casks and 11-year-old Tennessee Whiskey finished in black strap rum casks and vintage port pipes.  The resulting blend is bottled at a cask strength of 61.45% ABV, or 122.9 proof.

Cabernet, rum, and port…  That’s a lot of barrel finishing.  So much so that it could be the reason the TTB wouldn’t allow Barrell to label this a whiskey, hence the Dovetail name.  Whether that’s the case or not, it brings up an interesting topic of discussion – at what point does barrel finishing negate use of the term ‘whiskey’?

Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Master Distiller Tripp Stimson seem to care about releasing an interesting spirit more than they do fitting into a specific category, and that’s not a bad thing.  If anything, Barrell has remained extremely transparent in where they are sourcing barrels, save actual distillery names per non-disclosure agreements.

The duo spent the better part of a year getting Dovetail just right.  The emphasis on quality is not lost.  On the nose, hints of caramelized tropical fruit, ginger, and red fruit meet aromatic vanilla and some flint.  The rum cask sweetness greatly compliments the fruity wine notes.  Taste-wise, the whiskey’s caramel meets the rum cask’s darker molasses, followed by a wave of dark berries, grape jam, cocoa, and herbs.  Wine tannins tighten things on back palate.  Tobacco and spice lead us into the long, complex finish.

Simply put, Dovetail is a delectable adventure in barrel-finishing.  Given the massive array of rum and wine-influence, the whiskey’s base is still present.  The cask finishing is beautifully presented, taking the imbiber on a roller coaster ride of flavors.  Those looking for a fun and interesting dram should definitely seek this out.  Whiskey traditionalists might enjoy this as well, so long as they are open to something a bit different.  Dovetail comes highly recommended.  9/10

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for this production sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.