I have had the Basil Hayden’s 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon on numerous occasions over the years, but I never bothered to research this whiskey until it was time to write a review (Shameless Plug Alert! This itty bitty bottle of Bourbon was part of a 50ml four pack of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon collection that I recently purchased, so stay tuned for more reviews from this collection). After reading a review of this whisky by our friend Ryan of Value Whisky Reviews, I came to learn that the Basil Hayden’s Bourbon is essentially an older, lower ABV version of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon. Although Beam Global doesn’t come right out and state this, the following information from their website backs this up in a roundabout way…
Here is a bit of history about Old Grand-Dad Bourbon from the Beam Global website:
Old Grand-Dad was a distiller named Basil Hayden who made his name by distilling a bourbon whiskey made with a higher percentage of rye. Basil Hayden passed along the art of distilling to his son and then, in turn, to his grandson. It was the third generation distiller, Colonel R.B. Hayden, who honored his grandfather by naming his justly famed whiskey “Old Grand-Dad.”
And here is Beam Global has to say about the Basil Hayden’s 8 Year Old Bourbon on their Small Batch Collection website:
The eponymous Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon dates back to 1796, when Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. created a recipe unlike any other. He used a traditional corn base, but mixed in small grains in his mash to capture the spicy flavor of rye and complement the sweet smoothness of corn. More than 200 years later, Basil Hayden’s is a singular bourbon that bridges the flavor of rye whiskies and small batch bourbons together.
Based upon what I read on the Beam Global websites, the Old Grand-Dad and Basil Hayden’s sound awfully similar, and they obviously share a similar ancestry. The big difference is age and price. Per the Pennsylvania Fine Wine and Good Spirits website, a 750ML bottle of 50% ABV Old Grand Dad Bottled In Bond Bourbon retails for $19, while the 40% ABV Basel Hayden’s Bourbon retails for $38.
Although I did not have any Old Grand Dad on hand for a direct comparison, I did have a glass of it in early December. It had been a long time since I sipped the Old Grand-Dad, but after trying it on this particular occasion, I remember finding it to be very smooth and easy drinking. So here’s the question: Are a couple more years in the barrel worth twice the price? Let’s find out…
- Appearance: Deep amber color. Thick, slow moving legs form after giving it a swirl.
- Aroma: Vanilla. Caramelized sugar. Cinnamon. Dried fruit.
- Taste: Thin and watery mouthfeel. Very smooth and soothing, i.e. there is minimal alcohol burn. Tingles the front third of your tongue with cinnamon spiciness. This spiciness is nicely balanced with some brown sugar/maple syrup sweetness. Warm, long lasting, cinnamon infused finish.
- ABV: 40%
I have purchased several bottles of the Basil Hayden’s Bourbon over the years, and have enjoyed it every time. The same goes for this tasting. This is a well rounded, full flavored, and easy drinking Bourbon. Before I did my bit of research, I was very happy with the Basil Hayden’s, and have always considered it to be one of my favorites. It’s a very good Bourbon, but now that I learned a bit about its legacy, I’m not sure if it’s worth paying double the price of a bottle of Old Grand-Dad. This requires further research before I can come to a final conclusion.