Basil Hayden's



Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is one of the four bourbons that make up Beam's "Small Batch Bourbon Collection" along with Baker's, Knob Creek and Booker's.  It is also my least favorite.

The legend of Basil Hayden fires me up much more than the modern whiskey, distilled and bottled at Jim Beam in Clermont, KY.  

Just like me, Basil Hayden was a Maryland Catholic who abandoned Maryland for greener pastures and to avoid crazy people.

Maryland was founded as the New World's Catholic Colony for the purpose of providing religious toleration to England's persecuted Catholics.  However, during the mid to late 17th century, Puritans and Quakers started getting nasty and pushed the Catholics (including Basil Hayden) westward.  Basil Hayden led a group of twenty-five Catholic families from Maryland into what is now Nelson County, Kentucky (near Bardstown) in 1785.  He brought with him a high rye whiskey recipe and began distilling in 1796.

Following Basil's death, his grandson Raymond founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label “Old Grand-Dad” in his honor.  [Basil's likeness appears on the Old Grand-Dad bottles]. 





Basil Hayden's


James B. Beam Distilling Co./Suntory
80 proof
$44 at ABC in Columbia, SC

Color: Golden/straw

Nose: Spice, pumpkin pie, tea, hint of vanilla

Tasting Notes: You cannot deny the rye spice, and there is honey and brown sugar at play.  What I don't like is the lack of body, as the whiskey just falls apart in your mouth and leaves a lingering lemon soap taste.

Overall: C.  Basil Hayden's is not worth what retailers sell it for.  The bottle is gimmicky and probably costs the consumer $10.  As for the experience of drinking it, the body is very thin and at 80 proof, the whiskey is weak.  The spicy finish is very short and dry, but its not very complex.  Many, many people enjoy Basil Hayden's, though, and I'll happily mix you a cocktail with Basil Hayden's in it; just not for me.

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