Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch series along with Booker’s, Knob Creek and Baker’s. It’s unlike the other 3 because instead of using the traditional Jim Beam low-rye mashbill it’s created using Jim Beam’s high-rye mashbill and is the same whiskey that goes into bottles of Old Grand-Dad, just a bit older. How much older? Who knows. All I know is that since they removed the 8 year age statement it really hasn’t tasted the same.
I’ve read reports of it now being 6 years old, but until they put it on the bottle I’m not going to associate an age with it, and they really should bring that back. Basil Hayden’s needs something to distinguish itself from the rest of the OGD line-up other than a fancier bottle and a better-than-the-80-proof-but-not-as-good-as-the-bonded character. With no majorly distinguishing characteristics it’s really nothing more than a better expression of Old Grand-Dad 80 in a fancier bottle and to be honest that’s not worth the 3.3X price difference.
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Info
Region: Kentucky, USA
Distiller: Jim Beam
Mashbill: 63% Corn, 27% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Cask: New charred oak
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Review
The aroma is light and fruity with notes of spice, citrus, dark sweets and vanilla. Some weak notes of wood, blackberry licorice, new leather and root beer popsicles add a bit of dimension and it makes me wonder what this would smell like at a higher proof. Yes I know OGD 114 is technically a higher proof version, but I mean a higher proof of what this is supposed to be: a “small batch” of “cherry barrels” blended together.
Oak, caramel, vanilla and baking spices dominate the palate, but don’t achieve the richness they should. A bit of minerality, leather and pepper pop up towards the end and leave me wanting more substance. It’s nice, but like the nose, it’s light.
Short and oaky with light notes of leather, pepper and dark sweets.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
An ok balance, medium body and a soft unassuming texture make for a “okay” experience.
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon isn’t bad, it’s just weaker than it should be. Looking at the Small Batch lineup: Booker’s is cask strength, Baker’s is 107 proof, Knob Creek is 100 proof and this is a paltry 80 proof… what gives Jim Beam? A well matured, high-proof version of Old Grand-Dad has the potential to deliver some seriously amazing flavors and aromas, but they go and water it down to being barely legal – taking a potentially amazing aroma and flavor experience and cutting it off at the knees.
If I were King of Jim Beam for a day I would cut the Old Grand-Dad 80 proof from the line up and turn Basil Hayden’s into a single cask, cask strength, bourbon to fully differentiate it from the pack and justify its price. At the very least it should be given the Booker’s treatment; blend it from a small batch of barrels and leave it uncut. This is a good bourbon that has potential to be a fantastic bourbon and it’s a shame to see that potential watered down to this.
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 83
- Palate - 83
- Finish - 83
- Balance, Body & Feel - 83
Basil Hayden’s Bourbon isn’t a bad whiskey, it is a bad value. For $26 less you can get Old Grand-Dad 114 and that is a significantly better expressions of the Jim Beam high-rye mashbill.