Basil Hayden’s bourbon is a part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection. Its spicy, dry character along with its low 80 proof help it stand out. In early 2017, the brand released a rye whiskey, but that was a one-time release. Just a few months later, it was announced that Dark Rye would be the first permanent extension to the Basil Hayden lineup. It was a unique move.
Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye is a blend of Kentucky straight rye whiskey, Canadian rye whiskey, and port wine. In keeping with the Basil Hayden tradition, Dark Rye is bottled at 80 proof and is available for around $40.
So how is it? Damn drinkable. The rye from the two whiskies provides some nice aromatics that play against the fruitiness of the port wine, along with a hint of freshly squeezed citrus. Taste-wise, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye presents hints of rye spice (though it’s not as potent as I thought it would be) and port wine, as well as pecan pie and a touch of oak. At 80 proof, Dark Rye is as easy-drinking as its siblings. The medium finish features allspice, sangria, and oak notes.
Adding a whiskey like Dark Rye to the Basil Hayden lineup is a bold move, considering it’s not a straight rye whiskey, mainly because of the addition of port wine. That might turn away some people. However, Dark Rye is highly enjoyable. Its smooth character and combination of spice and dark fruit work beautifully. I wouldn’t recommend it to a someone looking to try rye whiskey for the first time as it isn’t a great representation of that kind of spirit. For those looking for something a little different, Dark Rye is worth a shot. Recommended. 8/10