View Full Version : Basil Hayden's Questions
I've learned from this site that there are three heavy-rye bourbons: Bulleit, Old Grand Dad, and Basil Hayden's. The only one I haven't tried is Basil Hayden's.
Someone recently gave me a bottle of Knob Creek. It had a small brochure describing the Beam Small Batch bourbons, and I was curious about this sentence from the Basil Hayden's description: "This unique recipe calls for a larger percentage of small grains in the mash (rye and barley) and eight years gently resting in wood."
Is the greater percentage of barley typical of heavy-rye bourbons? Or, is this a characteristic of Basil Hayden's? Does the Basil Hayden's taste maltier than most bourbons?
Well, since this is about to slide onto the second page, I'll give an incomplete answer to bump it up. BH is made with the same mashbill as the Old Grandads. That is certainly a higher percentage of rye than just about every other bourbon (except Bulleit), but I've never heard of it being "high barley." Could just be a small percentage of barley greater than the normal Jim Beam offerings (although the increase in rye is not small) and still keep the "salesman" language technically correct. But I don't know what the barley percentage is. I would not describe BH as malty.
You may want to search for some older postings on BH. I enjoy it a good deal when I drink it, but: a) don't often want a 80 proof pour, and b) certainly not at the price they want for it (as low as $33 in GA, compared to $26 for KC, $38 for Bakers, $48 for Bookers; BH is the one I'm most likely to see with a variety of prices), so I've only had one bottle, finished a year ago. And mine may be one of the more complimentary verdicts you'll find here.
If you want to explore high-rye bourbon, the Bulleit or OGD 100 or 114 are good places to begin, and very good value.
The percentage of malt might be a little higher in the BH/OGD mashbill, but probably not much, and probably not enough to notice. I suspect that the greater rye percentage was described as a "greater small grain percentage" to make it sound more hifalutin' than just "more rye". When BH came out, rye was not too well-respected, although I think in recent years it's had something of a rennaisance. But at that time, they might not have wanted to associate a new premium brand with rye, which was considered something of an eccentric old man's drink.
While it's rare to see any bourbon actually castigated on this board, I think BH gets short shrift a little too often.
BH is a damn fine bourbon. Many people on this board prefer higher-proof whiskies so 80 proof BH gets criticized. And, it's certainly no bargain. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/27.gif But, it has good flavor and IMO it's one of the smoothest and easiest to drink bourbons on the market. Some people don't want to pay the extra money for that compared to other (younger but more potent) Old Grand-dad expressions. I'm a big fan of OGD BIB, but I still feel that there's a place for BH on the shelf, too.
...While it's rare to see any bourbon actually castigated on this board, I think BH gets short shrift a little too often...
Agreed on quality/taste basis -- Basil Hayden's was my favorite the first time I tried the Small Batch Collection, and still might be (though Baker's ain't bad either). I've enjoyed it every time I've had it.
That said, I'm not likely to buy it at $40 plus tax, which is what it is around here. Not, anyway, when I can get Wild Turkey rye for half that, and VWFRR (when available) for around $30. I have nothing again '80 proof' per se. But, frankly, it represents more water in the bottle when compared to higher-proof ryes, at a much higher price.
To me BH is reminiscent of a Lowland single malt Scotch. It's the most unchallenging bourbon I've had, and I find it thin and just... bland. Baker's and Knob Creek, on the other hand, are brilliant.
Will have another try at BH soon though.
To me BH is a location bourbon. The best it's ever tasted to me was sitting in the Beam house in Clermont, sitting in the parlor with BobbyC before my first Sampler. It just hasn't tasted as good to me since.
To me, Basil Hayden's has always been a bit of a disappointment. At the same time, I get the point. The idea was to create a bourbon that would appeal to scotch drinkers. Perhaps even the high price is part of that equation. It appeals to scotch drinkers primarily by being drier than most bourbons. Another example of a bourbon made to appeal to scotch drinkers is Blanton's.
The disappointment part is that I like the Old Grand-Dad formula (it also uses a proprietary yeast strain that is not the same as Jim Beam) and would like to taste it at eight years or more, but because it is 80 proof it seems very bland to me. My favorite Old Grand-Dad expression is the bond, which is younger but 100 proof.
As for the specific question about "high barley," Booker Noe once told me that the mashbill for Beam is 76 percent corn, 13 percent rye and 10 percent malt, while the mashbill for Old Grand-Dad (and Basil Hayden's) is 63 percent corn, 27 percent rye and 10 percent malt.
The only bourbon I know that makes the claim of using more than a token amount of malted barly and using it for its taste is Ridgemont Reserve 1792.
I bought my first bottle of BH about 2 months ago. My over-riding conviction is it is TOO smooth. Not bad just kinda bland for what it "should" be. I do have a good use for it though. I serve it to friends who want a good bourbon but think many of my other bottles (ie. EC18, RR 101, EWSB, etc.) are "rot-gut" because they are too stout for their palates.
It might be the altar boy of bourbons. I prefer something with a little more character.
Basil Hayden is too "femenin" for me...
That is perhaps an even better description.
1792 Ridgemont Reserve is like that, too.
The best it's ever tasted to me was sitting in the Beam house in Clermont,
Anytime I have it at Jim Beam's expense, always gets it going for me, try it at the next sampler. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
1792 Ridgemont Reserve is like that, too.
Ahhh is it really? I just bought a bottle of it and haven't tried it yet.
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