Basil Hayden’s is a small-batch bourbon from Jim Beam Brands that was first released into the market in the 1980’s. Besides having a cool name (for some reason, I really like Basil Hayden’s), it is also in a beautiful, rustic bottle (seriously, I want to use the band around the bottle as a bracelet). I know that I have cautioned readers from purchasing wine based on the appearance of the bottle before and I will extend it to spirits as well. But, for this bottle, I would make an exception. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I really dig it.
Basil Hayden’s is named after the man who settled Nelson County Kentucky (near Bardstown) and was a home distiller. At DOTW, we love home distillers! Moonshining has a long and illustrious history in the United States (and in Scotland before that). I guess it’s the non-conformist element of my personality that digs it so much. After facing persecution in Virginia for being a Catholic, Basic Hayden’s family moved to Maryland, which was started as a haven for Catholics in the US, and then onto Kentucky. Hayden’s grandson later started the Old Grand-Dad Distillery and a legend was born!
Basil Hayden’s is supposedly based upon the mash bill of the man, Basil Hayden, himself. While not a rye, Basil Hayden contains twice the amount of rye than an average bourbon, which gives it a spicy kick. Not that bourbons need more of a kick.
Visually, the Basil Hayden’s is clear with a medium golden-amber hue (more on the golden side). On the nose, the bourbon has a medium intensity with aromas of caramel, vanilla, mulling spices (seriously, I want to add it to some hot apple cider), butterscotch and a hint of oak. On the palate, the Basil Hayden’s is smooth, leading with a spiciness (those mulling spices but almost fermented) that mellows into caramel and vanilla. Long finish. For some reason, the Basil Hayden’s lacks the fire that some bourbons have but that isn’t to say that it lacks kick or complexity, rather, that the alcohol has been nicely integrated. Signs of a well crafted spirit.
I don’t know who Basil Hayden’s was but I can say that his bourbon is delish! Try straight, neat or in your favorite bourbon based cocktail. While I generally like my Side Cars made with cognac, I would recommend one made with Basil Hayden’s