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Basil Hayden's Bourbon

Average score from 4 reviews and 12 ratings 82

Basil Hayden's Bourbon

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Basil Hayden's Bourbon

This is an 8 year old off shoot expression from Jim Beam. A part of a 4x5cl pack featuring other expressions from their small batch collections.

  • Nose: very floral, roses for sure, perfume very fresh, lemon oil, light oaky notes, an absolutely beautiful honey note, apple toast, hint of white pepper.

  • Pallet: smooth, some caramel, light toasty notes, stone fruit, oak again, sweetness on the entry going to then bittereness, nice floral notes again.

  • Finish: very interesting mouth feel, with floral notes returning, little yeasty, sourdough note, a little mouth-watering. Very clean.

  • Mark neat – 8.5

This is only the 3rd bourbon ive had, but its lovely, a world apart from the scotch i usually drink. Perhaps it is restricted by the ABV only being 40%, but it is very nice indeed.

@Volks, thanks for your review.

I like Basil Hayden's too, though it is for many sort of the step-child of the Jim Beam Small Batch family. This, I think, is mostly because it is sold at 40% ABV. The others are sold at 50% (Knob Creek), 53.5% (Baker's), 60% (Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve), and barrel strength, 61-65%, (Booker's) ABVs. The texture/body of Basil Hayden's is pretty thin for this reason. I think that the rationale to make this work at 40% ABV is that Basil Hayden's uses a higher rye content than the standard Beam recipe, at around 28% for Basil Hayden's, compared to around 15% for the standard Jim Beam line. Basically Basil Hayden's is made from cherry-picked barrels of Old Grand-Dad bourbon, diluted down to 40%. Old Grand-Dad was a brand dating back to the 1840s made by Robert Hayden, Basil Hayden's grandson. I strongly recommend also trying both the Old Grand-Dad Bottled In Bond (50% ABV) and the Old Grand-Dad 114 (57% ABV). They are both wonderful bourbons. Don't bother with 40% or 43% Old Grand-Dad, though. Those are the lesser barrels watered down = cocktail makings.


thank you very much for you insight and reccomendations. Next up in my 4 pack and bakers and bookers. Needless to say im looking forward to them


This is my 3rd review from the Jim Beam Small Batch series. Booker’s is an all-time favorite. Knob Creek is wonderful, and I’ll soon be rewriting my review of it with a much higher mark. Baker’s is next on the list, but here I am with a healthy dram of Basil Hayden’s sitting in my glencairn. I’ve been looking forward to trying this one in particular, as it’s heavier on the rye than the other Beams. Then again this is 80 proof, which doesn’t bode well…

Nose: Rye spices, vanilla, cereal, orange tang, ginger, light maple syrup. Light, accessible, reasonably complex and surprisingly pleasant.

Palate: Watery mouthfeel, with gentle spice, cereal, spearmint, and orange tang notes. A wood note is here that doesn’t seem typical. Not the deep, musty oak flavours that are present in many bourbon offerings. No, this has a light and refreshing wooden note that is more reminiscent of freshly cut cedar. Interesting.

Finish: Medium-short finish, with lingering spearmint and rye notes. This is definitely the weakest part of the dram.

This is a very balanced and flavourful Jim Beam offering, and has all the elements of a wonderful bourbon. Wonderful rye notes, unique and confident flavours, and a certain freshness and exuberance highlight this whisky. But there’s something tame about this dram. Perhaps it’s the unimpressive finish. Perhaps it’s because I feel this dram lacks intensity. Certainly a higher abv. would be nice. But I’m nitpicking. It’s a wonderful bourbon that is a great introduction to rye, but it’s also a light and pleasant everyday sipper. I can’t get over how charming and fresh this is…

@hunggar, thanks for a very nice review. It is indeed tough to get critical mass of flavour for a 40% ABV bourbon. I have long wondered why Beam decided on 40% ABV for one of their 'small batch' products. I still am not completely sure of the rationale for this, but, no doubt, the high rye content gives this more flavour at 40% than would a lower rye content bourbon mashbill. And these are without doubt cherry-picked barrel. Don't forget, the Old Grand-Dad series of bourbons from Beam work with this same mashbill, mostly at higher ABV. It used to be that the line-up for OGD was 43%, 50%, and 57%. Recently the 43% was replaced by a 40% standard mass-market OGD. Pity. But the 43% was light also. Do try some 50% and especially the 57% OGD products. They are very solid bourbons, and some of the best values for money in the entire whisk(e)y world.

@hunggar, I bet that you will like Baker's. Tell me if you don't agree that it is a little different from all of the other Jim Beam bourbons.

Great review and I completely agree with you and victor when it comes to the fact that the 40% ABV sometimes seems to hold a bourbon back and not allow it to have the flavor impact of its stronger bretheren. I personally find bakers great and almost as good as bookers mainly for what victor said. It's just a little different then everything else Jim beam.


Basil Hayden’s was named after Basil Hayden Sr, a catholic from Maryland to lead his flock to Nelson County, Kentucky, near Bardstown, in 1785. He was, as many men of the frock were, a distiller as well. He was one of the first to increase the amount of rye to the mash bill of his bourbon. Today, this bourbon is part of Beam’s Small Batch Collection (Knob Creek, Booker’s and Baker’s being the other three). Beam claims to use Basil Hayden’s original mash bill from 1792. It matured for 8 years.

On the sweet, light and accessible nose citrus dominates. Very sweet indeed. Spicy too (white pepper, vanilla, ginger), thanks to the double portion of rye in the mix.

It is rather light and watery on the palate, which is something of a letdown. Luckily, the taste makes up for a lot. A perfect continuation of the nose with some extra caramel and a good helping of mint. Actually, a lot of peppermint. It freshens the whole.

The finish is medium in length, midly spicy and warming. It is soothing.

This is certainly not an earth shattering bourbon, but quite a step up from the bottom shelf stuff.


Basil Hayden migrated to Kentucky from Maryland in 1785 and became a distiller of whiskey. He is credited with having introduced larger quantities of rye into the bourbon whiskey mashbills than were used by the other Kentucky distillers-- maybe precisely because he came from Maryland, the homeground, along with Pennslyvania, of rye whiskey distilling in the US. Hayden's grandson later became a distiller and named his brand "Old Grand-Dad" in honor of his grandfather Basil Hayden. Basil Hayden's is one of the four Beam small batch bourbons, along with Booker's, Baker's, and Knob Creek. The whiskey is aged 8 years. This is a high rye content mashbill, and the same high rye mashbill as used in Krob Creek. Beam Brands now owns the Old Grand-Dad high rye content family of bourbons as well

Nose: gentle, sweet, rye spice, caramel

Taste: immediate greeting of rye spices and sweetness together, caramel, and lots of oak wood. The body is light. There is good strong flavour here

Finish: medium intensity, but long duration, with the flavours all staying on until the end

Balance: I am a rye whiskey guy, and a high rye bourbon guy. That said, I was scared of this whiskey at first, because I almost never like any bourbon at only 80 proof. Jim Murray rated this bourbon a very weak 78/100, describing it as dilute. I disagree with Mr. Murray strongly here-- this is almost the only 80 proof bourbon that I really enjoy, because the flavours are so strong. If you like high rye content bourbons, give this one a try

A small correction: as @dbk has pointed out to me in the past, the high rye mashbill of Basil Hayden's is the same as that used in the Old Grand-Dad whiskeys. The Knob Creek mashbill is the standard Beam medium rye mashbill.

Just picked it up today - will let you know what I think!


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