Whiskey Review: Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon (2020)

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Beam-Suntory. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Meredith Basil Hayden, Sr. moved to the future heart of bourbon country and began distilling whiskey in 1792. He used a recipe with a higher percentage of rye than his neighbors. Today, he’s honored with the Basil Hayden’s brand, part of the Noe family’s (Beam Suntory’s) small batch series: Knob Creek, Baker’s Bourbon, Booker’s Bourbon and Basil Hayden’s (and the industry’s number one fans of the possessive noun).

Meredith didn’t move to Kentucky because he had a feeling or a hot tip about the future of whiskey production. He moved there as the leader of a band of Catholics. Hayden’s family had settled in Maryland after fleeing England and its anti-Catholic sentiment (which was reinvigorated by fears over French political dominance in Europe) in the mid-1600’s. In this move, twenty-five families left Maryland for what’s now Nelson County, KY. Together, they established the first Catholic church west of the Alleghenies, Hayden donating the land. About seven years later, he began distilling.  

Every fall since 2018, we whiskey fans get a special treat: Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon. Basil Hayden’s whole conceit is an easy-drinking bourbon. Not the muscular barrel-proof stuff, not the barely-aged-in-small-barrels stuff, just the drink-it-neat-without-wincing stuff. After the painful removal of their eight-year age statement in 2014, happening upon the confident 10-year declaration is a treat.

Basil Hayden's 10 Year Bourbon (2020)

Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon (2020) (image via Beam-Suntory)

Tasting Notes: Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon (2020)

Vital Stats: Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Bourbon is a mellow 40 proof and made from 63% corn, 27% rye, 10% malted barley and retails in most American markets for $69.99 per 750mL bottle.

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Appearance: This liquid is a very clear, medium brown-copper that coats the glass and quickly forms thick tears.

Nose: A sweet, yummy nose smelling of only good things: caramel buns and cola, coconut sugar and molasses.

Palate: The palate is buttered toast on the attack, with gentle spiciness. Smoked meat hits on the mid-palate, black tea wraps the sides of the tongue. The finish is slightly dry, tannic and tasting of molasses and allspice dram, medium long. The body is thin, contrasting with all the rich, syrupy flavors.

The Takeaway


Final thoughts: Maybe I'm too used to over-proof whiskeys, but this is positively sessionable; just "easy." It's not a whiskey that invites deep analysis or hard thinking. It's for when you just want to focus on the conversation.

User Rating 2.54 (69 votes)