This letter is well past due. Let me just say before you read further, I’m sorry for the things I’m about to say.
We met nearly a decade ago. At the time you had an 8-year age statement. You were a straight Kentucky bourbon – a thing to behold! While you were only 80 proof, you, as part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, provided me what I thought was something “more.” You held a high price tag for the time. You came in a beautiful package, with a shiny belt. You were, I thought, what quality bourbon should be.
But I was young. Naive. Impressionable.
I soon learned of your higher proofed brothers – Knob Creek, Baker’s and Booker’s. Then, I learned there was life outside the Beam family. Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, just to name a few. What I found I was attracted to, however, was higher proof and more flavor packed bourbons. I soon fell for a bourbon named Elijah Craig. Then Al Young. I think that is when I knew we were headed in this direction. There would be more, but I shouldn’t belittle you more.
Despite all of this, I tried to love you. While I knew I had changed, there was still something about going back to you that I found comforting. While you had long ago lost your 8-year age statement, I still found you enticing.
Soon I saw what I thought was change in you, for the positive. You came out with a Basil Hayden’s Rye. Then a Dark Rye, a Two-by-Two
Rye, and even a Caribbean Reserve Rye. While each of those disappointed me, I stuck with you because I saw you trying. You were trying to adapt to the times. Even with your 10-year age stated bourbon, I thought you were headed in the right direction.
This past month you came out with the Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Rye.
I’m done with you. While I have tried and and I have tried, I clearly see that you and I were not meant to be. Maybe there is someone else out there for you. But the hard reality is, I’m not sure there is. Maybe its time you just go back to who you used to be, and let it rest. To see you constantly putting yourself out there, embarrassing yourself…. From someone who once loved you, please stop.
Basil Hayden’s Rye (80 Proof) (NAS) (reprint from previous review).
Nose: Even more evasive than the Basil Hayden’s Bourbon. To say it is delicate cannot be overstated. There is some cornbread and spearmint with a trace of dill and raw rye grain, but otherwise the nose is almost completely absent. (2/5)
Palate: Corn, cardboard, some diluted caramel syrup with a trace of some sort of savory and salty flavor. Some old chalky bubblegum. (2/5)
Finish: Blink and you miss it. Left with a trace of pepper and clove. (2/5)
Overall: This takes away the balance and traditional profile from the standard bourbon, replaces it with a trace of some rye attributes, and then falls apart. To think that this would be someone’s introduction to rye would be a tragedy. (2/5)
Value: If it was hard to justify the bourbon’s price, this falls flat on its face. This delivers nothing more than Old Overholt, which can be found for about 1/3 the price. (1.5/5)
“This takes away the balance and traditional profile from the standard bourbon, replaces it with a trace of some rye attributes, and then falls apart.”
Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Rye (80 Proof) (10 Year)
Nose: Sweet oak, citrus, vanilla, caramel, dill, mint, thyme, rye grain, cornbread, light perfume floral. Still very light, but added “body” to the nose. An improvement. (2.5/5)
Palate: Creamy vanilla custard, diluted brown sugar syrup, cinnamon bun, light cigar tobacco. A back-end blandness, with a bit of salt and pepper. Really, while it starts nicely, don’t leave this on your palate for very long. Imagine drinking salt and pepper water, and holding it there. Just don’t. (2/5).
Finish: Very diluted. Light cream frosting, faint herb, light pepper, sharp oak. The non-age-stated Rye may have more finish. (1.5/5)
Overall: To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. There is not much to like here. If very little flavor is your thing, maybe this is for you. (1.5/5)
Value: In now 4+ years of rating values, I have yet to find the elusive bottom “1” on value. Until now. This comes in at around $75 retail. I’m done with you, Basil Hayden.
“If very little flavor is your thing, maybe this is for you.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.