February 21, 2011

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Review

Basil Hayden's is part of Jim Beam's Small Batch Collection, along with Baker's, Booker's, and Knob Creek. Out of the Collection, Basil Hayden's has the most rye in its mash bill, is the lowest proof at 80, and is the lighest bodied. It's named after an early-American distiller (after which Old Grand Dad is also named) who supposedly used a recipe similar to what is now put into the bottle. The bottle is sold with a paper label that hangs over the bottle's shoulders that's held in place by a ribbon of wood and metal that comes together like a belt buckle to form a BH logo.

Basil Hayden's is aged 8 years. Its color is pale, light, and rusty. Basil Hayden's has a welcoming nose to it: warm, sugary caramel is dominant with a peppery, clove-like background. There is also a subtle vegetal note reminiscent of Jim Beam White Label. Mouthfeel is cool, light, and watery. Basil Hayden's taste almost reverses what the nose presented. The pepper comes through stong, with the caramel sweetness taking a back seat. The signature Jim Beam vegetal nuance is also there. There's also notes of fresh pine sawdust and a quick flash of cinnamon buried in there deep. Basil Hayden's finishes with pepper at that back of the tongue. There is a very slight fleeting burn and around the edges the caramel returns.

Basil Hayden's is certainly the most delicate of the Small Batch Collection. It's worth a try neat, or in cocktails - its spice holds up well in a whiskey highball. When you're looking for a quality, light-bodied whiskey, Basil Hayden's will not steer your wrong.


  1. Great review. I have to agree, Basil Hayden's is one of my favorite bourbons because of the subtlety. You definitely want this one neat, or on the rocks. It won't overpower you, but you will be surprised that something so light, can have such peppery and cinnamon spice.

    After reading this, I need to pick some up again soon.

  2. Superb Manhattan prepared at the Inn at Biltmore Estate using Basil Hayden, Fee Bros. Orange Bitters, and Noily-Pratt sweet vermouth....just superb with the subtle pepper & spice highlights holding up surprising well to the bitters and vermouth.