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Basil Hayden's Bourbon: What It Is and Why It's So Popular

The ultimate gateway bourbon or overpriced and watered-down? Basil Hayden whiskey is a lightning rod for extremely hot takes. Why?


Everything you need to know about the most popular bourbon whiskey on shelves today. This time: Basil Hayden's Bourbon, a bourbon that creates legions of fans and haters in equal measure.

What is Basil Hayden's Bourbon?

Basil Hayden's is a low-proof, high-rye premium bourbon whiskey. It's named after an 18th century whiskey maker known for making high-rye bourbon and being among the first Americans to settle the area known as Bardstown, Kentucky today, or the Bourbon Capital of the World. It is positioned as the entry-level bottle within Jim Beam's Small Batch Collection of whiskey brands.

Who makes Basil Hayden's Bourbon?

Basil Hayden's is made by Jim Beam in Clermont, Kentucky. Its high-rye mash, low 80 proofing and snazzy bottle design contrast greatly with Beam's other small batch brands (Knob Creek, Baker's and Booker's). Those three key differences are also the reason many seasoned whiskey drinkers frown upon Basil Hayden's: it's viewed as watered down, soft and probably a hair too expensive ($40) for what's in the bottle. What's more, though there is a limited edition version that carries an age statement, standard Basil Hayden's does not bear an age statement.

Basil Hayden whiskey shares a mashbill with Old Grand-Dad whiskey, a cult favorite Jim Beam brand known for its high-rye peppery kick and wallet friendly prices.

What is Basil Hayden's good for?

While sipping Basil Hayden's may not earn you Cool Whiskey Person street cred, its reputation as a gateway into the premium whiskey market is well-founded. The whiskey is lighter in flavor than most premium bourbons, but it's not as though you're drinking water. For those not interested in burning nose hairs sniffing a new barrel-proof offering, it's an excellent casual sipper that won't put you on your back after a few pours. And as with all Beam portfolio whiskeys, the bottle-to-bottle consistency is remarkable.

Where can you buy Basil Hayden's Bourbon?

Another point for Basil Hayden's is its availability. You can find bottles of it everywhere. There is no great shortage of the stuff as is the case with Buffalo Trace products or the more sought-after Jim Beam whiskeys like Booker's or special Knob Creek Single Barrel picks. And because it's available everywhere, it isn't subject to severe price inflation, like many of the hard-to-find bottles are these days.

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