Two spicy bourbons head to head: Basil Hayden’s vs Bulleit Bourbon in an in-depth comparison so you decide which is better for You!
Basil Hayden’s Straight Bourbon
|Nose||Apple, floral, rye spice|
|Palate||Oak, cherry, spice, pineapple|
|Finish||Medium, vanilla, apple|
|Alcohol content||80 proof (40% ABV)|
|How to drink||Neat|
|Similar to||Old Grand Dad, Angel’s Envy|
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 (Similar Bourbons) 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.
|Nose||Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond|
|Palate||Rye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts|
|Finish||Long, caramel, rye spice|
|Alcohol content||90 proof (45% ABV)|
|How to drink||Rocks, cocktails|
|Similar to||Bulleit Rye, Bulleit 10|
The nose provides a blast of rye spice at first, followed by hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
On the palate, the Bulleit Bourbon has a good texture. Flavor feels spicy on the first sip product of the high rye presence in the mash, but as you let it develop it becomes rich in dried fruit and tasty nutty notes.
There is some warmth on the finish yet pleasant, rich in spice, oak, with some sweet notes coming late to the party.
Bulleit Bourbon (Substitutes) is well rounded, sweet on the palate, with a strong spicy finish due to the large portion of rye used in the mash bill.
Spicier than the typical bourbon but smoother than a rye whiskey, making it a good option for those who want rye spice in moderation.
Bulleit Bourbon makes a good sipper as you can drink it either neat or rocks and also mixes nicely in an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour as rye makes cocktails more interesting.
There are a few facts worth knowing about the Bulleit Bourbon:
- Bulleit is aged for 6 years in charred American white oak casks.
- Bulleit’s mash bill is made from 68% corn, 28% rye and 4% malted barley.
- Earned Double Gold medal at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
- “Excellent, Highly Recommended” at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
- This brand was created in 1987 by Tom Bulleit, a former Four Roses employee, using his grandfather’s recipe.
- The company was acquired by Diageo, a British conglomerate headquartered in London. Diageo also owns Johnnie Walker and Don Julio among several others.
What do Basil Hayden’s and Bulleit Bourbon have in common?
Both bourbons are high in rye content
These bourbons carry a high portion of rye in their mash bills close to 30% making them grassy and peppery, with a characteristic spicy finish.
Basil Hayden’s vs Bulleit Bourbon: Price comparison
Prices are approximate and stated in USD:
|Basil Hayden’s Straight Bourbon||$46|
Basil Hayden’s vs Bulleit: Which is better?
Bulleit is a better bourbon than Basil Hayden’s for 3 reasons:
- It is more flavorful while remaining smooth.
- It is way more affordable.
- Bulleit has a higher proof that does not feel.
|Whiskey||Basil Hayden’s||Bulleit Bourbon|
Basil Hayden’s is too expensive for a bourbon with no age statement and a low proof of a mere 80. The nice looking bottle does not overcome the thin and watered-down mouthfeel.
I am a bar and liquor shop owner in Oaxaca, Mexico where I have tasted hundreds of different spirits; perhaps more than I should!