Basil Hayden’s

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One of the original “Craft” Bourbons from Jim Beam, Basil Hayden’s was a major reason both of us got into Bourbon years ago.  It has been a long time since either of us has had a drink of Basil. Will it be a nice pleasant trip down memory lane, or a reminder of why neither of us have drank the stuff in a couple of years?

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at a mere 80 proof in a very recognizable, cool, corked bottle with a paper label and a Wood and Copper/Nickel metal band going around the waist of the bottle. It sells for just over $40 and is widely available. The label used to say “Aged 8 Years”, that has been replaced with “Artfully Aged”. There are no age statements on the bottle or on the JB website. So, by deduction, it must be somewhere between 4 and 7 years, your guess is as good as ours.

One interesting fact, Basil Hayden’s is the same juice as Old Grand Dad, just left in the wood a little longer.

NOSE

Todd:    Pleasant with aromas of both rye and corn, also picked some bread, caramel, butterscotch and a little bit of cocoa.

Ron:    Excellent nose, albeit a little hot for 80 proof. It is loaded with all my favorite aromas; Caramel, spice, apricot and a woody/oak scent, behind this a little bit of tobacco and cherries.

TASTE

Todd:   After that nose I was a little disappointed  in the taste. Seemed overly hot for just 80 proof and needed a cube to mellow it down a little. I did taste the spice from the rye, but everything else I had to really reach for. A little cedar, a slight scent of leather and malt.

Ron:   Yeah, this packs a little heat atypical of it’s 80 proof counter parts. Unlike Todd I got nice sweet flavors of caramel, honey, and oak upfront followed by slight taste of leather and tobacco.

FINISH

Todd:   Medium-long, spicy with a touch of honey.

Ron:     Medium-long to long with a warm sweet finish, very nice.

OVERALL

Todd:  While  I cut my Bourbon teeth on Basil Hayden’s, the last time I had this I was underwhelmed. It just didn’t live up to my memory, maybe it’s the difference in the Bourbon’s age, I don’t know. This seemed better than my last experience but still not sure I would pay $40 plus for a bottle.

Ron:   It’s been a long time since I’ve had this Bourbon, maybe too long. This is much nicer than memory recalls but not saying it was bad before. Like Todd, this is one of the Bourbons that peaked my interest and my love for the American Spirit 15+ years ago.

Nose       4.5 out of 5

Taste       8.5 out of 10

Finish      4 out of 5

Total score                    17 out of 20 Barrels.

While we both thought Basil Hayden was better than the last time we had it, neither thought it was as good as the juice that we started our Bourbon adventure with years ago. This could be due to the change in the aging process. At around $40 and up, it is a little on the steep side considering you can buy Old Grand Dad 114, the same mash bill, for half the price, at a higher proof while serving well in a cocktail.

Our final thought is that if you have never tasted Basil Hayden’s, you should give it a shot. As stated before it was one of the fore-runners of the current Bourbon trend. Also, it still has a big following, so not a bad idea to keep a bottle in your cabinet for friends who like it.

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