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Basil Hayden’s vs Old Forester: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Old Forester 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, 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 (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.

Old Forester 86

NoseBrown sugar, caramel, ethanol
PalateVanilla, banana, oak, spice
FinishCaramel, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toOld Forester 100, Wild Turkey 81

The nose delivers a sharp ethanol hit that quickly fades into a sweet scent of brown sugar and caramel.

On the palate, the Old Forester 86 has a decent body showing a medium texture. Flavor is smooth and a bit musty, with hints of vanilla, banana, cinnamon and a whiff of charred oak spice providing a bitter note.

The finish is shortlived, with caramel and oak to it with very little to no warmth.

It drinks nicely neat or rocks and the little higher than average proof (86) makes it a good option for an affordable and tasty cocktail.

Old Forester 86 is an easy drinker with nothing remarkable or off-putting, getting the job done providing good value for the money.

Way better than other budget bourbons like Jim Beam or Jack Daniel’s that have odd tasting notes, but short of whiskeys like the Bulleit Bourbon or Buffalo Trace that have a more complex and interesting flavor profile.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Old Forester 86:

  • Aged for around 4 years.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • This was the first bottled bourbon sold in sealed glass bottles instead of from barrels, to ensure consistent quality.
  • Old Forester has been on the market continuously since 1870, which is longer than any other bourbon.
  • Crafted at the Brown-Forman Distillery in Shively, KY.
  • This brand is owned by Brown-Forman which also holds Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

Basil Hayden’s vs Old Forester: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s$45
Old Forester$24

Basil Hayden’s vs Old Forester: Which is better?

Old Forester offers better value than Basil Hayden’s

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sOld Forester
  • Basil Hayden’s is not a bad bourbon, but you would expect from a dram at this price to have a proper body and a bit more proof as it is bottled at a mere 80 proof making it a watered-down whiskey.
  • Old Forester is solid in terms of value as it does not have any rough edges tasting better than the bourbons at this price range making it a solid offering.

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