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Basil Hayden’s vs Buffalo Trace: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Buffalo Trace 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, Knob Creek

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 Jim Beam whiskey. 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.

Buffalo Trace

NoseCaramel, cinnamon, baking spice, cereal
PalateCaramel, vanilla, oak, espresso coffee, chocolate
FinishVanilla, baking spice, oak
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, rocks
Similar toJack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Four Roses

Buffalo Trace is one of the top-selling spirits for two good reasons: it’s smooth and tasty and attractively priced providing a good experience and good value for the money.

Nose is very subtle with notes of caramel, vanilla and a touch of baking spice. 

Taste hits the spice a little harder, displays oak and fruit and the underlying sweetness is still there, a little caramel and vanilla goes a long way. Mouthfeel is soft and approachable, light on the heat.

The finish has a moderate length, rich in vanilla and baking spice, although flavors don’t sit on the tongue for long but leave a refreshing sensation in the mouth.

The Buffalo Trace is a well-rounded bourbon, making a nice easy sipper with a medium to full body, soft with a chewy feel, fruity and oaky with a medium spicy finish.

It’s not intense or mind-blowing, but it gets the job done delivering a pleasant and satisfying bourbon.

Overall, Buffalo Trace is a solid mid-shelf bourbon, a sipper that does not need neither water nor ice. Makes a solid option for an “everyday whiskey” although not the best mixer as it lacks the punch to deliver tasty cocktails.

If you want to consider further options I’ve compiled a list of substitutes to Buffalo Trace that you should look into.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Buffalo Trace:

  • Buffalo Trace is made from corn, rye and malted barley in undisclosed amounts.
  • Buffalo Trace uses a unique aging process of 8 years in which the barrels are stored in the middle floors of the warehouse where temperature fluctuations are the greatest.
  • According to Buffalo Trace who has been using the same recipe and methods for the last 200+ years these variations get reflected in the bourbon creating deeper flavors.
  • 40 barrels at a time are chosen to create one single, small batch of Buffalo Trace.
  • Double Gold North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition 2019.
  • Gold San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2018.
  • Crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery owned by the Louisiana-based Sazerac Company.

Basil Hayden’s vs Buffalo Trace: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s$46
Buffalo Trace$35

Basil Hayden’s vs Buffalo Trace: Which is better?

Buffalo Trace provides bang on the buck

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sBuffalo Trace
  • Buffalo Trace is a great “everyday bourbon” as it drinks quite nicely, is free of controversies, well-rounded and providing value at its current price.
  • Basil Hayden’s comes in a nice bottle but the juice inside feels watered-down and unremarkable for a bourbon at such price.
  • It tastes like a thin version of the Bulleit Bourbon, TBH.

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