Last month we heralded the arrival of Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey, the first such offering from the popular bourbon maker. Now, we’ve got a bottle in hand and are taking it for a spin.
Basil Hayden’s Rye is actually a blend of two whiskeys. The first is a four-year-old traditional rye whiskey that is moved into newly-charred, quarter cask oak barrels for an additional seven years. The smaller surface area means more contact between the liquid and the wood, which results in a stronger oak influence. That rye is then blended with Basil Hayden’s aforementioned traditional rye. So you’ve got the same baseline whiskey, but two aging practices, and it’s all for the purpose of adding more of those oak accents like baking spices, vanilla and caramel to the finished product.
Speaking of the finished product, Basil Hayden’s Rye pours golden amber in the glass. On the nose, it’s full of oak, spicy rye grains and mild caramel. Take a sip, and those aromas continue onto the palate, with more of that charred, tannic oak leading the charge. A dose of vanilla and brown sugar lends some sweetness and rounds things out, but the overall package gets muddied along the way. It finishes dry, with baking spices, ginger and light smoke lingering until the end.
Basil Hayden’s Rye Whiskey is a notable departure from the bourbon. With more oak and spice throughout, it’s a different drink entirely, but a generally enjoyable one that should still appeal to fans of the original. That said, the flavors don’t develop quite as deftly as we’d have liked. Perhaps a higher proof would’ve allowed for more interesting elements to shine through and grab hold of the palate.
— 40% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★