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Basil Hayden’s vs Elijah Craig: Which Wins?

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

Basil Hayden’s

basil-haydens-bourbon
NoseApple, floral, rye spice
PalateOak, cherry, spice, pineapple
FinishMedium, vanilla, apple
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toMaker’s Mark, Four Roses SB

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 across Jim Beam range of bourbons.

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.

Elijah Craig Small Batch

elijah-craig-small-batch
NoseWood, chocolate, cinnamon, clove
PalateChocolate, wood, butterscotch, citrus
FinishOak spice, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, vanilla
Alcohol content94 proof (47% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toJack Daniel’s, Jim Beam

Nose offers oak aroma at first, followed by a hint of chocolate, cinnamon and clove.

On the palate, you get oak spice up-front, with a hint of bitter chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla and a tad of citrus.

There is warmth on the finish as you get a hit of ethanol and a spicy bite rich in oak spice, cinnamon, black pepper and clove with some butterscotch sweetness coming late to the party.

Elijah Craig has a nice nose, a good taste but it lets you down on the finish as it feels warm and spicy.

It becomes better when adding a drop of water as it becomes sweeter and loses some of the heat along the peppery bite.

Elijah Craig is not a bad whiskey by any means, barely making it to the sipper category but definitely needs more persistence than the average bourbon in this price range.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Elijah Craig:

  • Elijah Craig is credited as the first distiller to use heavily charred casks to age bourbon.
  • It is made from a mash bill comprised of 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley. 
  • It is bottled by blending no less than 200 casks of maturing bourbon, each of which was rested in a Kentucky rickhouse for a minimum of 8 years.
  • This whiskey previously had an age statement of 12 years but in 2016 the age statement was removed to extend its availability.
  • The distiller also increased the maximum number of barrels used per batch from 100 to 200.

Basil Hayden’s vs Elijah Craig: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

BourbonPrice
Basil Hayden’s$47
Elijah Craig Small Batch$34

Basil Hayden’s vs Elijah Craig: Which is better?

Basil Hayden’s is an easier bourbon

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sElijah Craig
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • I consider Basil Hayden’s to be one of the most (if not the most) overrated bourbon as it feels thin and watered-down providing very little value for the money.
  • Buy the Old Grand Dad Bourbon which is made from the same mash add a drop of water and pocket the difference.
  • Elijah Craig is more punchy but adding water makes it more approachable.
  • You can also replace it with the Evan Williams which is also made from the mash at the same distillery while saving a few bucks.