Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye

Reviewing something a little different today. Dark Rye by Basil Hayden, which is a blend of Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, Canadian Rye Whisky and port wine. To be clear, this is not a Rye aged in an old port wine barrel but Rye that actually has port wine added to the mix.

Dark Rye comes in the same, familiar looking, corked bottle that you see with regular Basil Hayden. This one comes with a reddish paper wrap instead of the traditional beige. Dark Rye is bottled at 80 proof, sells for around $38 for the 750ml and is widely available. I could not get an age statement from their web site.

Full disclosure, I have not been a big fan of Jim Beam or the many spin offs of Beam. Nor have I been a fan of Canadian booze and lastly, while I like wine I’m not a big fan of port. So this will be interesting.


TB: I can smell the port along with sweet vermouth and maraschino cherries. Also get a hint of almonds, Rye, vanilla and wet wood. There is an underlining odor that reminds me of day old red wine. Not really sure what I think of the aroma.


TB: I can taste the Rye, port, day old wine and sweet vermouth that I got on the nose. Not many secondary flavors, a little taste of dates and some sweetness.


TB: Medium with a little bit nuttiness and sourness.


TB: There was nothing I really liked about this drink. Too sweet on the front end and too sour on the back. And the middle just reminded me of port or old wine.

Nose 2.5 out of 5

Taste 6.5 out of 10

Finish 3 out of 5

Total score 12 out of 20 barrels.

I will give kudos to Jim Beam for at least trying something different. And the results are definitely different. They are just not the results that appeal to me. It is not very complex for the price and all that went into it. The port is just too overpowering. In fact, if I didn’t know what I was drinking, I don’t think I would have ever guessed Rye Whiskey.

This may appeal to some, but for me, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye just doesn’t cut it as a glass of Rye. Maybe as an aperitif? If you are still curious, I would recommend finding it at a bar or better yet a friend’s house.