Basil Hayden’s – It’s so smooth

Basil Hayden’s is part of the original Beam Small Batch Collection which also includes Baker’s, Booker’s, and Knob Creek.  Beam uses 2 different bourbon mashbills, a low rye and a high rye bourbon. The low rye produces most of their whiskies and the high rye produces only 2 – Old Grand-Dad and Basil Hayden’s. Basil Hayden’s, with its high price point and over the top bottle packaging, shouts to the consumer that it is a premium bourbon.  As a matter of fact when friends who don’t really know bourbon, that want to surprise me with a bottle as a gift, often choose Basil Hayden’s. Gifted bourbon is always good and there is nothing wrong with this selection. It’s a pleasant pour, but at a low 80 proof it just does not excite me. For 1/3 less in price one can purchase Old Grand-Dad 114, which remains one of the best values in bourbon today.  A few years back there were rumors that Beam was planning on discontinuing OGD 114. I purchased a case and tucked it away in the back of a closet. Thankfully those rumors proved to be false as OGD 114 is still readily available. But I still sleep better knowing that the case sits there, just in case.

In 2014 Basil Hayden’s was 8-year age stated whiskey.  Now the top label of current Basil Hayden’s states ‘Artfully Aged’, which is marketing speak for we removed the age statement.  They dropped the age statement claiming that this will allow our distiller to maintain the same profile by artfully blending younger and older whiskeys.  A year later I did a group blind tasting, including both the 8-year version as well as the NAS version. Blind tasters were asked which they liked better.  The results were evenly split, which indicated Beam did a good job maintaining that profile.

Beam Suntory just recently introduced a 80 proof 10-year age stated Basil Hayden’s KY Straight Bourbon Whiskey with a suggested retail of $60.  The standard version here in Texas goes for about $32. Has the standard version maintained the profile of the old 8-year bourbon as Beam indicated that it would?  Or has younger whiskey been gradually introduced into the mix? Is a 2-year bump in age worth almost double the price? Or is the price that high just because the 10-year version will be a ‘limited’ quantity release?  I’ll stick with the OGD 114 and be very happy.

It has become a trend for brands to drop age statements and then, a few years later, reintroduce very similar whiskey with a much higher price.  Wash, lather, rinse, repeat.

Whiskey tater reason 76.  You have an irrational fear on missing out by thinking this ‘limited’ special release or that single barrel pick is the ONE.

3 thoughts on “Basil Hayden’s – It’s so smooth”

  1. This blog* is very good, saw Sku tweet about it. Thanks for the info and your thoughts on various things, look forward to reading all the posts

    *- have I just aged myself by using the term? I’m not ashamed to be an old

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