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Basil Hayden’s vs Booker’s Bourbon: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Booker’s Bourbon in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon 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 (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 across Jim Beam Whiskeys.

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.

Booker’s Bourbon

NoseVanilla, oak, leather
PalateVanilla, tobacco, stone fruit, caramel
FinishCherry, oak
Alcohol content126 proof (58% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toKnob Creel SB, Noah’s Mill

Booker’s (Similar Bourbons) is aromatic, rich in vanilla, leather, tobacco and oak.

On the palate, it shows a good body offering initial sharpness that gives way to complex flavors.

Is rich in vanilla, tobacco, stone fruit, caramel, a dash of baking spice and the peanut note you get from the whiskeys crafted at this distillery.

The finish delivers cherry and oak and lingering warmth, but is not harsh, settling into a nice glow on the mouth and in the chest.

Booker’s is hot and tasty, just a bit of astringency from the high proof but quite pleasant nonetheless.

Rich in vanilla, tobacco, leather and caramel without much sweetness which is a good thing for those like me who are not that fond of excessive butterscotch in a pour.

It drinks nicely neat but if you feel the burn add a drop or two of water tuning-down the heat while bringing more sweetness and oak.

Adding a large ice ball also tunes it down but doesn’t allow sweetness to emerge.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Booker’s:

  • Aged between 6 and 8 years.
  • Uncut, unfiltered and straight-from-the-barrel or what I call the “Holy Trinity”.
  • Made from a mash bill comprised of 77% corn, 13% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • Booker’s receives its name from Fredrick Booker Noe II who was Jim Beam’s grandson and master distiller for around 30 years.

What do Basil Hayden’s and Booker’s have in common?

Crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery

They both have the peanut note that you find in all whiskeys crafted at the Jim Beam Distillery.

No matter if it’s the cheap Jim Beam White Label, or the premium releases, they all share the same peanut note.

I don’t know if the peanut note is by design or by accident but it’s the common feature across of all Jim Beam’s releases.

Are Basil Hayden’s and Booker’s the same bourbon?

Made from different mash bills

No, these bourbons are crafted using mash bills and go through different barrel management making them different.

Basil Hayden’s has a mash high in rye (27%), while Bookers uses the same mash bill as the Jim Beam White Label which is low in rye (13%).

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon$46
Booker’s Bourbon$100

Basil Hayden’s vs Booker’s: Which is better?

Booker’s is a far more tasty bourbon

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sBooker’s
  • Basil Hayden’s is overly smooth, with no warmth, striking a nice balance between sweet and spicy notes. The body is thin and lacks proof two things that I consider indispensable in a good bourbon especially at this point full of better options.
  • Booker’s is warm (not harsh) and remarkably tasty, with solid tasting notes, a good creamy body and at a high proof that does not drink as such. If you feel the burn add water or ice and it becomes quite manageable.

Personally, I prefer Booker’s over Basil Hayden’s but I would not buying without comparing it first with the Knob Creek Single Barrel which is another Jim Beam offspring.

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