When you walk down the whiskey aisle in your local liquor store you may notice that unique bottle of Basil Hayden’s that continually catches your eye. When your eyes focus on Basil Hayden’s you instantly see a classic seal up the side of the bottle, complete with Basil Hayden’s own signature. You will then noticed the unique, classic paper label that drapes over both sides of the bottle. In the middle of the bottle there is a thin piece of wood that wraps around the entire bottle with a unique copper band that is stamped with the Basil Hayden’s. In the center of the copper band are two metal cutout letters reading “b and H.” You are probably wondering why we spent so many words talking about the label and presentation of the whiskey but everything about about Basil Hayden’s screams quality, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and class. They set the tone for the experience as soon as you pick up the bottle.
As the story is told in 1796, Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. started, what was then an earth-shattering process, where he would mix small grains into the mash of a traditional corn base. Coming from Maryland, Basil was an outsider in the Kentucky distilling world and Basil deduced that the spicy flavor of rye would be a striking complement to the sweet smoothness of corn in his distillery’s standard bourbon. And much to the chagrin of the traditionalist bourbon makers, Basil was right. His recipe resulted in a unique, singular small batch bourbon whiskey that will give your palette a run for it’s money. High rye bourbon’s are becoming increasingly popular in today’s market. The rise of Bulleit Bourbon is great example.
After Basil passed on, his grandson Raymond Hayden eventually started his own distillery years later with a bourbon labeled Old Grand Dad in honor of his grandfather. In 1988, Beam Brands brought back the Basil Hayden name as part of their small batch bourbon collection that in addition to Basil, features Knob Creek, Booker’s, and Baker’s.
Now that we are all caught up on your history lesson, let’s get to the fun stuff. With a recipe dating back over 200 years we have to make sure it is still good after all this time, duty calls! Read on for the full review!
Proof: 80 (40% APV)
Appearance: Golden Amber
Nose: Spice, Tea, Mint
Flavors: Vanilla, Honey, Caramel, Spicy
Price: $36.99 USD (750ml)
With the initial sniff you will get notes of some spice, tea leaves and hint of mint. Some tasters noticed specifically peppermint. When you take your first you will notice how thin it is on the tongue but don’t be fooled, soon a flavor rush is headed to your palette. You will notice some wonderful spice with some sweet vanilla flavor. We also caught notes of caramel, honey, and some pepper for the spice. Being only 80 proof, this bourbon has minimal burn and tastes quite smooth.
Given its smooth and well-rounded flavors, this is a great bourbon to sip neat. This is also great for wine drinkers with a strong palette as the alcohol content won’t overpower them and they should be able to detect the flavors and enjoy a great tasting bourbon. The 80 proof is on the lighter side for bourbons but Basil Hayden’s has great flavor and is enjoyable in every setting. We paired it nicely with a wonderful evening cigar as the flavors complimented each other well. If you prefer rocks, we would only recommend one or two as it being a lighter bourbon you will dilute the flavor quickly and won’t get the full flavor throughout your drink.
MIX IT UP…..”Midwest Manhattan”
Ingredients: 1 1/2 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, 1/2 part grenadine, 1/2 part maple syrup, 2 dashes orange bitters, orange peel, 1 cherry
Directions: Add all ingredients and ice into a cocktail shaker or pint glass and stir, strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice, garnish with orange peel and cherry.
As always, drink responsibly.