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Basil Hayden’s vs Woodford Reserve: Head to Head

Discover the differences between Basil Hayden’s vs Woodford Reserve 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 toBuffalo Trace, Knob Creek

Nose is sweet and fruity, with hints of apple, something 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 body. 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.

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 more rye to the mash bill. He’s the man on the label of Old Grand Dad.
  • Distilled at Jim Beam Distillery which is owned by Suntory Holdings, headquartered in Japan.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

NoseMint, honey, vanilla, citrus
PalateSweet oak, cinnamon, mint, ripe fruit
FinishOak, caramel, baking spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark

Woodford Reserve (Similar Bourbons) is pleasant and subtle on the nose, with hints of wood, mint, vanilla and caramel.

Palate is sweet and spicy yet entirely smooth. Some oak up front, but in moderation, along cinnamon, mint, and a sweet fruity note.

The finish brings additional sweetness, along oak, and satisfying warmth that lingers.

The Woodford Reserve Bourbon is nicely balanced, body is creamy and does not have any off-putting or demanding notes.

It makes a great sipper due to its smoothness and is yet spicy due to rich cinnamon notes.

This is a sweet and mellow bourbon with the right level of heat that drinkers of all levels will appreciate alike.

Excellent everyday bourbon, smooth and clean, good both neat and on ice.

I find it somewhat weak to make great cocktails. I’d rather use the Woodford Rye that has many tasting notes in common but with additional rye in the mash making it more spicy and punchy.

  • Woodford’s mash bill is made from 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% barley; the rye content makes it a bit spicy.
  • This bourbon ages for 7 years in one of the few warehouses that uses heat cycling. This process involves cooling and heating the air to closely control the aging.
  • Earned gold and double gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
  • The brand belongs to Brown-Forman who also owns Jack Daniel’s, Herradura Tequila, Old Forester and a few other brands.

Basil Hayden’s vs Woodford Reserve: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Basil Hayden’s$45
Woodford Reserve$40

Basil Hayden’s vs Woodford Reserve: Which is better?

Woodford Reserve is a more satisfying bourbon

WhiskeyBasil Hayden’sWoodford Reserve
  • Woodford Reserve is a far better bourbon than the Basil Hayden’s which is thin lacking in body and low in proof making it quite dull, TBH.
  • Woodford Reserve is a nicely balanced pour, striking a solid balance between sweet and spicy note, with the right amount of oak that finishes with lingering pleasant warmth delivering an entirely satisfying pour.
  • The Woodford Reserve is something that you can drink everyday and not get bores. Easy enough to sip it neat, rocks or in cocktails making it quite versatile.

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