Who the heck is Basil Hayden? In a nutshell, he was a distiller in the 1700s who led several families to settle at Bardstown, KY. He also liked a higher percentage of rye in his whiskey. Now, let’s talk about Basil Hayden’s bourbon. I’ve wanted to try this bottle for a long time. Maybe the elaborate packaging got to me? I’m a sucker for great packaging, but if the whiskey inside the bottle isn’t good then a nice label really doesn’t matter. After all, a bottle of bourbon isn’t shelf decoration – it’s for drinking.
Before we get to the tasting notes, let’s examine this bourbon a little. Basil Hayden’s uses Jim Beam’s high-rye mash bill. It shares DNA with Old Grand Dad, Jim Beam Rye, and (ri)1. A little tidbit – Basil Hayden is pictured on the bottle of Old Grand Dad. Also of note is the age statement, or lack thereof. It’s the only member of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection that doesn’t carry an age statement. Basil Hayden’s used to be aged 8 years. Now, it’s “artfully aged.” My assumption is the distillery is using younger whiskey while trying their best to keep the flavor profile of this whiskey the same.
(The distillery’s PR firm provided a review sample.) On the nose, I get a little rye spice, some light caramel, slight oak and even a little mint. Taste-wise it’s got a pretty light body. Could be because of the low proof (80 proof). Basil Hayden is not too sweet. I get some of that rye spice and a little black pepper. There’s also a slight bit of oak. The best way I can describe the finish is crisp & dry.
Basil Hayden’s is James Bond’s bourbon of choice… as per Carte Blanche, a 007 novel from 2011. If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me. Seriously though – Basil Hayden is a nicely spiced, light whiskey. It’s not as complex as Four Roses Small Batch. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison. They are both light whiskies, but complete worlds apart in terms of flavor. I haven’t mixed Basil Hayden in a cocktail yet, so I can’t recommend anything other than drinking it neat at the moment. Ice and water completely drown the flavors in this one. It’s that light. A bottle will cost you about $40. A little over-priced, but a nice spring-time sipper nonetheless.