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Basil Hayden’s vs Weller: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Weller Special Reserve 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.

Weller Special Reserve

NoseMaple, apple, leather, oak
PalateCaramel, vanilla, chocolate, baking spice
FinishOld leather, cinnamon, oak
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, add water
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Maker’s Mark

Weller is a wheated bourbon crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Wheated bourbons tend to be smoother smoother and sweeter than those that use rye as secondary grain behind corn.

Nose is smooth and mostly sweet, rich in maple honey, apples, with some old leather and oak coming behind.

On the palate, the Special Reserve brings caramel, vanilla and cinnamon at first, followed by dark chocolate and a dash of citrus.

Finish is warming yet pleasant, somewhat dry, with lasting flavors of old leather, spicy cinnamon candy and oak spice.

Drinks nicely neat with very little to no burn, yet adding a drop of water releases sweetness, along more oak making it more tasty.

Weller Special Reserve is smooth and sweet as you would expect from a wheated bourbon. It could use more body as it feels to be lacking a bit, but overall this is a satisfying pour nonetheless.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Weller Special Reserve:

  • Weller uses an undisclosed amount of wheat in the mash but likely to be around 15%.
  • Weller was the first bourbon back in 1849 to add wheat to the mash as a secondary grain behind corn.
  • Weller is aged anywhere from 4 to 7 years.
  • Earned a Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

What’s the difference between Basil Hayden’s and Weller Special Reserve?

The difference lies in the mash

  • Basil Hayden’s is high in rye. Rye provides grassy and peppery notes, along a signature spicy finish.
  • Weller Special Reserve is a wheated bourbon. Wheated bourbons are generally softer and have a approachable flavor as compared to bourbons that use rye as their secondary grain, and have a slightly sweeter taste.

Basil Hayden’s vs Weller: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon$46
Weller Special Reserve$60

Basil Hayden’s vs Weller: Which is better?

Weller is a more satisfying bourbon

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sWeller
  • Basil Hayden’s is the watered-down alternative to the Bulleit Bourbon, as it feels thin, lacking in flavor yet priced a few dollar above providing very little value for the money.
  • Weller is a better bourbon, more tasty yet quite smooth delivering a satisfying experience from nose to finish.
  • A little pricey for its value but way richer than the Basil Hayden’s whose strength lies in its looks and not in the juice.

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