Basil Hayden’s is the lightest bodied bourbon whiskey in the family of Jim Beam small batch bourbons produced by Beam Suntory. It is 80 proof, in contrast with its three sibling brands of higher alcohol concentration (Knob Creek,Booker’s, and Baker’s).
The Basil Hayden’s bourbon brand was introduced in 1992 and is named in honor of Meredith Basil Hayden, Sr. Hayden Sr. was a distiller, and he 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 the company says uses a mash similar to that originally utilized by Hayden in 1792.
Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. broke ‘the rules’ by mixing small grains into the mash of a traditional corn base. A Maryland transplant unafraid to stand out amidst the residing establishment, Basil conjectured that the spicy flavor of rye would be a striking complement to the sweet smoothness of corn in his distillery’s standard bourbon. And much to the chagrin of the traditionalist set, Basil was right. His recipe was a masterpiece, resulting in a unique, singular small batch bourbon whiskey that was blessed with rich hints of peppermint, notes of pepper, slight citrus overtones, and a spicy, warming finish.
The brand expression was originally labeled as “Aged 8 Years”, but in 2014, the age statement was replaced by “Artfully Aged”, indicating that the brand no longer carries an age guarantee.
Basil Hayden’s is a singular bourbon that bridges the flavors of spicy rye whiskies and sweet small batch bourbon. It displays aromas of spice, tea, and peppermint, while on the palate, spicy and peppery notes lead into a honeyed sweetness. Aged eight years at a relatively mild 80 proof, this is a pleasantly lighter bodied bourbon that makes for easy sipping.