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Basil Hayden’s Bourbon vs Basil Hayden’s Rye: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s Bourbon vs Basil Hayden’s Rye in this in-depth comparison and decide which Whiskey is better for You!

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

NoseApple, floral, rye spice
PalateOak, cherry, spice, pineapple
FinishMedium, vanilla, apple
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toOld Forester, Woodford Reserve

Nose is sweet and fruity, with hints of apple, a scent that reminds of fruit cocktail cherries in pineapple juice and a soft hit of rye spice.

On the palate, Basil Hayden’s feels thin and watered-down lacking in texture. Flavor is oak up-front, soaked grains and moves to sweet cherry in the middle.

You also get a the roasted peanut note you get in every whiskey crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery. This peanut note is present in the Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Booker’s and even in the Old Grand Dad and the Old Crow!

Don’t know if this peanut note is by design or by accident but is the common theme at Jim Beam.

The finish is short and unremarkable with more apple and pineapple hints, along some rye spice to it and just a little heat that you feel on the way down.

Overall, the Basil Hayden’s is a smooth and well balanced bourbon where the rich rye presence in the mash doesn’t feel.

It lacks body as it feels thin, the finish is quite short and the low proof doesn’t help its cause.

In summary, the Basil Hayden’s looks better than how it tastes as I find it underwhelming for a bourbon at this price.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Basil Hayden’s:

  • The current mash bill is 63% corn, 27% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • It does not carry an age statement.
  • This brand was introduced in 1992 and is named to honor Basil Hayden, the distiller that went against the grain by adding rye to the mash bill. He’s the man on the label of Old Grand Dad Bourbon.
  • Distilled at Jim Beam Distillery which is owned by Suntory Holdings, headquartered in Japan.

Basil Hayden’s Rye

NoseHoney, rye spice
PalateCaramel, vanilla, rye spice
FinishMedium, caramel, rye spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toBasil Hayden’s Dark Rye, Knob Creek Rye

The nose is very light with a honeyed note, followed by some rye spice and a whiff of ethanol.

On the palate, the Basil Hayden’s Rye has an oily body, with a bit of warmth up-front but nothing extreme, followed by sweet vanilla and light rye spice.

The finish has a medium-length with fresh honeycomb at first, and then a bit hot and spicy, but smooth nonetheless.

Overall, the Basil Hayden’s Rye is pretty smooth, it has some heat up-front but finishes clean. Offers a soft mouthfeel, is slightly sweet and spicy making a rewarding sipper.

This is a standard good Rye Whiskey with low rye content, it does not provide any memorable tasting note but is quite pleasant.

It drinks better when adding a dash of water as it opens-up becoming sweeter and an easier drinker.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Basil Hayden’s Rye:

  • First aged for 4 years followed by additional 7 years in newly charred quarter-cask oak barrels.
  • Quarter casks have a significantly higher ratio of wood-to-liquid than most standard casks, they tend to accelerate the aging process.
  • Basil Hayden’s is a “barely legal rye whiskey” as it only has a bit over the minimum of this spicy grain to belong to this category. You get some rye spiciness while the high corn content in the mash makes it sweet. 

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon$46
Basil Hayden’s Rye$52

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon vs Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey: Which is better?

Basil Hayden’s Rye is a more tasty whiskey

WhiskeyBH BourbonBH Rye
  • The Basil Hayden’s Rye is more flavorful and has more character than the Straight Bourbon which I find to be a bit thin and dull, TBH.
  • I was expecting more from the latter but it fell short of my expectations. There are several better options over the overly popular Basil Hayden’s, IMO.
  • The Basil Hayden’s Rye is a standard good rye, is not outstanding as it does not have any remarkable flavors or memorable tasting notes but it drinks nicely neat, rocks and even better with a splash of water.
  • Jim Beam, who is the one distilling these drams, could make both way better with a bit more proof. These whiskeys would become much better at 90 proof!

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