I have to confess, this is my first time trying Basil Hayden’s. I really do skew toward higher proof bourbons, and out of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, Knob Creek and Booker’s have been my go to’s. It wasn’t that long ago that I finally tried Baker’s, a seven year old 107 proof bourbon, and realized how good it was. So when Hokus Pokus offered me a bottle of the ten year old limited release bourbon, I decided to roll the dice, given how good Baker’s was.
The color is a straw like color, with amber overtones. Since this was aged ten years, it must be pretty watered down. The nose is pleasant; some oak overtones, a little vanilla, caramel, nothing off putting. Pretty big long legs on this for such a low proof. On the palate, there is a lot of butter on the front end, it has a very nice mouthfeel; not thin at all and is different from most 80 proof whiskies I have tried. Caramel, oak, and a nice rye spice note on the palate. Finish lingers much longer than expected.
Catherine did not like this bourbon. For her it was all butter and not much else. But, I have to say, this is not a bad sipper at all for it being at 80 proof. Very smooth and no burn, and there are nice subtle flavors to be discover and there is nothing off putting about this bourbon.
However, the ten year old release is a limited edition once a year bottle. I had a bottle of Basil Hayden’s regular bourbon on my bar, so I decided to open it and compare.
The color is slightly lighter, I would guess this bourbon is probably seven years old given the proof. Very Jim Beam on the nose, although this is Old Grand Dad high rye juice. Some herbal rye notes. On the palate, there is caramel and rye spice, a little bit of nutmeat but not the unpleasant Beam yeast peanut funk some of their products and Heaven Hill whiskies have. But really smooth and enjoyable. Not as good as the ten year old, but not bad at all.
I would highly recommend Basil Hayden’s to anyone that wants to start tasting bourbon neat without ice or mixers but is intimated by the “burn” sometimes felt with higher proof bourbons. The flavors on these bourbons, while subtle, are spot on and the mouthfeel is very nice given the low proof.