Bourbon brands do a great job, probably the best job, at tracing their lineage all the way back to the farmer-distillers of the late 18th/early 19th century. Way back then, farmers preferred to distill the grain they harvested and sell it for profit rather than travel the many miles to market hauling a few hundred pounds of it. Distilling seemed to make more sense, therefore many of the early Irish-Scottish immigrants found themselves making whiskey as a part of life. One such Catholic distiller, Basil Hayden, emigrated from Maryland to Kentucky in 1796 and founded a community of settlers in what would eventually be the world’s capitol of Bourbon whiskey. His grandson, Raymond Hayden, a commercial distiller, produced and named a very high rye based bourbon (as Basil made it) “Old Grand Dad” in honor of Basil. Old Grand Dad survived Prohibition and remains on the shelf to this day. Beam acquired OGD in 1987 and soon after produced an identical high rye recipe with the name “Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey,” and is the subject of our penetrating gaze today.
Basil Hayden’s bourbon contains an exceptionally high rye content, double the average percentage as claimed by Beam Suntory. Other than a curiously low 40% ABV, Basil Hayden’s trademark smoothness can be attributed to 8 years in the new, charred oak barrels that reside in the center of their rack houses, aging alongside Knob Creek, just one year older. Time in the barrel removes the rough edges and mellows out the spirit, which one would think is tough to do in the searing heat of a Kentucky rack house, but the cooler, more temperature controlled center will withhold the tannic onslaught of condensed flavor you can easily find in bourbon aged this long. Let us begin…
SWC Group Review
Nose- Rye begins with spice cabinet, clove, fresh cut grass and saw dust. With time, vanilla sweetness comes but on the light side. Dried apple. Ginger ale. Overall a rye forward affair.
Taste- Vanilla, black pepper with dry oak tannins.
Finish- Short. Sweet lemon citrus. Fades away quick.
Comments- Very light and non-bourbon like. Lacks depth, sweetness, and body. Some nice rye aromas but taste wise we’ll look elsewhere.
SWC Rating – 75/100
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.
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