Whiskey Review: Basil Hayden - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Basil Hayden

Basil Hayden

image via Savannah Weinstock/copyright The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Purported to be the lightest of Beam’s “Small Batch Bourbon Collection,” Basil Hayden also boasts a mash bill with approximately twice as much rye as its siblings. In recent years, Basil Hayden has both removed its eight year age statement (switching to a no age statement or NAS labeling), and skyrocketed in popularity.

Although a few decades old, Basil Hayden took a while to find its footing in the bourbon community. Considered a little too soft at 40% ABV for quote “real” bourbon drinkers, and a little too spendy at $40 or $50, the dram was eschewed by many old school whiskey drinkers.

However, in the past few years, Basil Hayden has appeared to find more of its niche with millennial drinkers. Its dedicated website is clearly aimed at stylish millennial men whose values include the creation of craft cocktails (mind you, not following classic recipes, but giving them a nod), masculine patriotism, and jam-making. Cultural note-taking aside, Basil Hayden deserves the same impartial reviewing I give every whisk(e)y.

Tasting Notes:

A medium burnt caramel color in the glass, Basil Hayden’s approximately eight years is apparent in its rich color.

Corn bread, menthol, and dark fruit hit first on the nose, followed by figgy pudding, stewed plums, and cinnamon, highlighting a very slight pepper and punch. A spiced, minty, delicate nose to be sure. Baking spice and Christmas scents are present, but do not overwhelm the light body.

The dram is silky, with roasted pear, baked walnut-stuffed apples, and baking spice warming the front of the palate. Neither corn, oak, or char pull Basil Hayden in one particular direction, making for an incredibly balanced drinking experience. A very soft, smooth mouth feel is rounded out by cinnamon and golden raisin. Both complex and balanced, the bourbon’s high rye mash bill doesn’t overwhelm it, rather making for a nuanced flavor profile.

The finish is vegetal, with celery and savory polenta present. A short, not too sweet finish. Again very soft and light.

Conclusion:

Altogether soft and balanced, but with depth, I can imagine Basil Hayden having a very wide appeal, especially to newer whiskey drinkers.

Score: 91/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF BASIL HAYDEN]

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About the author

Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the Hebridean Isles. I am currently working in the industry getting up-close and personal with whisk(e)y, spirits, and cocktails every day.