Review: Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

The crazy paper-and-metal-holding-ring label system doesn’t make Basil Hayden’s taste any better, but God I love a nice conversation piece. The thing looks like it belongs in an Old West saloon, but Basil Hayden is a far cry from rotgut firewater. This is classy whiskey, pure and simple.

Basil Hayden’s is famous for being “lighter” in style (though just 80 proof, it’s still in barrels for eight years), and that’s obvious from the first sip. It’s easily drinkable straight, but improves a bit with a splash of water. That’s a difficult trick, actually, because Basil Hayden’s is one of the best widely-available bourbons on the market, if not the best mainstream brand you can buy at any liquor store around.

Where to begin? Start with the smoothness. Hayden goes down gently, immediately filling your mouth with its sweet honey, vanilla, and gentle smoke character. There’s an interesting mintiness, too — don’t worry, you’ll pick up on it on your second glass.

It’s also got a spicy kick, courtesy of a little rye in the mash,. That sounds like a stunt, but everything works together perfectly in the spirit. From the aroma in the glass to the smooth and layered finish, which lifts away all of Basil’s characters one by one, finishing with that silky smoke sensation, this is a bourbon that sets the bar for everything else.

A / $40 / smallbatch.com


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5 Responses to Review: Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

  1. Pingback: Drinkhacker.com » Drinkhacker’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

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  3. Besting any Tn. whiskey at it’s own game is this sly rye bourbon. It’s far and away the bottle of choice when my wife pulls a drink from the liquer shelf, not the fine scotch, not the wines, she goes for the bourbon. It’s good alone, it’s good with gingerale…it’s really good. It gets criticized as being weak or unagressive in flavor but in doing so wins over those who like a drink that really IS smooth going in and down. It’s worth a drink if you’re convinced there’s no such thing as a smooth drink.

  4. Bullseye, Joe. This stuff is smooth as silk, and as long as you know that going in, it can’t be a bad thing.

  5. Pingback: Basil Hayden’s

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