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.
The latest Basil Hayden expression, Two by Two Rye, is not a rye whiskey. I can see where a consumer might get confused, thinking he or she is buying a rye whiskey. Simply deleting the word “rye” and naming this Basil Hayden’s Two by Two would have been a more direct approach.
What’s inside is interesting. It’s a blend of straight whiskies: 5-year-old rye, 7-year-old “high rye” , 13-year-old bourbon, and 7-year-old bourbon. The bourbon and rye whiskey blends aren’t new, but are delicious when made well. (See High West’s Bourye and Wild Turkey’s Forgiven.) In keeping with the Basil Hayden tradition, Two by Two Rye is bottled at 40% abv. This whiskey retails for $44.99.
The nose is nice, if a bit muted and a little young, featuring spiced caramel, slightly ‘green’ rye grain, and a touch of burnt sugar. There is more of the same on the palate. Hints of caramel and waxy vanilla meet some baking spice. That green note from the nose is here as well, but in a less upfront way. A bit of toasted cedar develops right before the spicy and slightly dry finish.
I’ve gotta say – this is the first Basil Hayden release that disappointed me. It came across as a bit thin and sort of boring. The thin part had to do with the whiskey’s low proof. That hasn’t hindered the brand’s other expressions, but here it keeps robustness on a very short lease. As for the boring part… the whiskey is not bad. It’s just… okay. There’s nothing exciting here. The aforementioned Forgiven and especially Bourye are big, spicy, and robust, which is what a bourbon and rye blend should be. As for Two by Two Rye, a better choice would be any other Basil Hayden expression. Go for the reliable Basil Hayden’s bourbon with its high rye mash bill, or even the fruitiness of Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye. 6/10
Thanks to Basil Hayden’s for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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