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Basil Hayden’s vs Maker’s Mark: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Maker’s Mark in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Basil Hayden’s Straight Bourbon

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

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 (Alternatives) 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.

Maker’s Mark

NoseCinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond
PalateRye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts
FinishLong, caramel, rye spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toJack Daniel’s, Jim Beam,

The nose has a nail polish note that fades into vanilla and cherry as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate Maker’s Mark delivers vanilla, caramel, cherry and honey providing a pleasant mouthfeel.

The finish has a moderate length, is sweet with very little warmth and just a dash of black pepper.

Adding a drop of water makes it taste like a Tootsie Pop, while tuning down the spicy note making it easier to sip.

Maker’s Mark (Substitutes) is a well-rounded and enjoyable bourbon without any bold flavors. It is one of the few bourbons, along Van Winkle, Weller Bourbon, Old Elk, Larceny, that carry wheat in the mash as opposed to rye.

This makes the Maker’s Mark a bit sweeter and smoother while providing a bready flavor.

Nothing stands-out but there are no off-putting notes as it is nicely balanced, yet with enough body.

It makes a good entry-level bottle to those new to bourbon or liquors in general or a nice “everyday whisky” for those looking for a non-challenging sipper.

I’m not fond of using wheated bourbons as mixers as I feel they lack the punch to deliver tasty cocktails making me prefer a rye whiskey for an Old Fashioned.

Learn more about this brand by reading my post: Discover the Best Maker’s Mark Bourbon where I rank every bottle.

There are few facts about Maker’s Mark worth knowing:

  • Bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV).
  • Maker’s Mark is made from 70% corn, 16% red wheat, and 14% malted barley. 
  • While most whiskeys age for a set amount of time, Maker’s is bottled when the tasters call it to be ready; that is between 6 and 7 years.
  • This one of the few whiskey brands in the United States that uses “whisky” instead of “whiskey” in its name due to the founders Scottish heritage.
  • Maker’s bottles stand out from the rest due to the red wax seal that is still made by hand nowadays.

What do Basil Hayden’s and Maker’s Mark have in common?

Both are owned by Beam Suntory

Both brands are owned by Beam Suntory which in turn is owned by Suntory Holdings from Japan.

They are crafted at different distilleries within the state of Kentucky as Maker’s Mark is produced in Loretto while Basil Hayden’s at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont.

Basil Hayden’s vs Maker’s Mark: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s$45
Maker’s Mark$31

Basil Hayden’s vs Maker’s Mark: Which is better?

Maker’s Mark provides better value for the money

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sMaker’s Mark
  • Basil Hayden’s feels thin and watered-down with a low proof making it terribly expensive for what it has to offer making an overly overvalued bourbon that tastes barely better than the Old Grand Dad that is made at the same distillery using the same mash.
  • Maker’s Mark offers better value for the money as it has a higher proof and remains quite smooth making an easy drinker and a good “everyday whiskey”.

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