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Basil Hayden's Bourbon

Fresh, flavourful, and tame...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

10th Jul 2013

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  • Overall
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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…

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3 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@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.

6 years ago 0

@Nolinske
Nolinske commented

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.

6 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

@Victor, @Nolinske: I will definitely be trying the Baker's in the near future. I'll surely write a final review to wrap up my JB small batch reviews.

@Victor: Sadly, OGD as well as almost all of your preferred ryes and bourbons are absolutely nowhere to be found here. I'm afraid I'll have to wait until the next time I head back to the west before I get to sample them, unfortunately.

6 years ago 0

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