Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s small batch series, along with Knob Creek, Booker’s, and Baker’s. You can read more about Basil Hayden himself, and the origins of the brand, here.
Basil Haden’s is known for being a “gateway” bourbon. That is, it is an ideal introductory bourbon, due to its low alcohol content (80 proof) and inoffensive profile (sweet and smooth). The standard offering once carried an 8 year age statement, which was dropped in 2012. Now that standard offering is rebased at between 6-8 years old.
According to Beam Suntory: “Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Bourbon features the brand’s trademark high-rye bourbon recipe, aged longer in American Oak barrels to offer an additional layer of complexity to an already distinctive whiskey. The extra aging delivers heightened oak aromas along with hints of char and vanilla while maintaining Basil Hayden’strademark spice in every sip. This intensification of flavor makes Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Bourbon a memorable bourbon for fans and newcomers alike while remaining approachable at 80 proof.”
Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon (80 Proof) ($60)
Nose: Vanilla; honey; diluted butterscotch and caramel chews; oak and sawdust; some faint dark fruits (black cherry, plum, black grapes); light pepper; faint orange citrus. Light because of the lower proof but still satisfying. (3/5)
Palate: Dry charred oak; vanilla extract; brown sugar; anise and a but of rye spice; allspice; apple; candy corn. Diluted but not overly thin, and the complexity is not completely lost. It’s satisfying. Not more. Not less. (3/5)
Finish: Peanut and burnt toffee; brown sugar and caramel syrup sweetness; tobacco leaves; lingering tannins. Decent length and a nice combination of lingering sweetness and char. (3/5)
Overall: There is not really anything wrong with this other than it’s proof, just like Basil Hayden’s lineup generally. With that said it is blended nicely to the desired 80 proof. It’s good. It’s good Basil Hayden’s, and if you like their profile generally and the lower proof, I think you will be satisfied. I don’t love it. I don’t love or really even like 80 proof bourbons. Bourbon is intended (IMO) to pack a punch. It’s not a finesse drink. This is finesse. But it is well crafted. (3/5)
Value: This is tough. If you insist on drinking straight and only want 80 proof, I’d be hard pressed to find anything better (bourbon at 80 proof) at any price (I’m speaking metaphorically). But it’s $60. Imagine Elijah Craig Barrel Proof at 130 proof and 12 years or a Knob Creek Single Barrel at 120 proof and 9-14 years for the same (or with the Knob Creek, 3/4ths or less) price. I could make a lot of really good 80 proof whiskey for the $60. For 80 proof and the $60 price…I’m a pass. But, if you enjoy the standard Basil Hayden’s and aren’t offended by its price (which ranges from $33-$45 in our area), then maybe this is a worthwhile treat. (2/5).
“It’s good Basil Hayden’s, and if you like their profile generally and the lower proof, I think you will be satisfied.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.