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Everyone remembers the one who first introduced them to Basil Hayden. Feel free to pay the favor forward to anyone that loves bourbon or to anyone who hasn’t found a bourbon to like.
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I was bought this a while back as a Christmas present. I remember I liked Maker’s Mark before this, and after drinking this I returned to a glass of Maker’s and found it undrinkable in comparison.
Basil Hayden's is a low-proof, high-rye premium bourbon whiskey. It's named after an 18th century whiskey maker known for making high-rye bourbon and being among the first Americans to settle the area known as Bardstown, Kentucky today, or the Bourbon Capital of the World. It is positioned as the entry-level bottle within Jim Beam's Small Batch Collection of whiskey brands.
Basil Hayden's is made by Jim Beam in Clermont, Kentucky. Its high-rye mash, low 80 proofing and snazzy bottle design contrast greatly with Beam's other small batch brands (Knob Creek, Baker's and Booker's). Those three key differences are also the reason many seasoned whiskey drinkers frown upon Basil Hayden's: it's viewed as watered down, soft and probably a hair too expensive ($40) for what's in the bottle. What's more, though there is a limited edition version that carries an age statement, standard Basil Hayden's does not bear an age statement.
While sipping Basil Hayden's may not earn you Cool Whiskey Person street cred, its reputation as a gateway into the premium whiskey market is well-founded. The whiskey is lighter in flavor than most premium bourbons, but it's not as though you're drinking water. For those not interested in burning nose hairs sniffing a new barrel-proof offering, it's an excellent casual sipper that won't put you on your back after a few pours. And as with all Beam portfolio whiskeys, the bottle-to-bottle consistency is remarkable.
Another point for Basil Hayden's is its availability. You can find bottles of it everywhere. There is no great shortage of the stuff as is the case with Buffalo Trace products or the more sought-after Jim Beam whiskeys like Booker's or special Knob Creek Single Barrel picks. And because it's available everywhere, it isn't subject to severe price inflation, like many of the hard-to-find bottles are these days.
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Basil Hayden's is the lightest bodied bourbon whiskey in the family of Jim Beam small batch bourbons. Its 80 proof is in contrast with its three sibling brands of higher concentration (Knob Creek, Booker's and Baker's). Hayden was also an accomplished distiller and used a larger amount of rye in his mash than in some other bourbons. When Beam Industries introduced their small batch collection, among the four was Basil Hayden's, which uses a mash similar to that originally used by Hayden back in 1792.