Basil Hayden

Whiskey Review – Basil Hayden’s 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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.

26 replies »

  1. G-LO, nice review. I know I am in the minority on Basil Hayden’s – most people find it very smooth and pleasant. While smooth, I found that without a good hearty sweet foundation, the bitterness from the rye and from 8 years in oak dominate the finish. I think that OGD 100 proof has a bigger sweet foundation, and less bitterness from the oak, making it more balanced. Less smooth, sure, but more balanced and a bit better in my opinion, irregardless of price difference. I got my miniature bottles of OGD from Total Wine (in Delaware). So if you don’t want to get a whole bottle, watch out for those!

    Look forward to your reviews on the other small batch bourbons!


    • I didn’t get the that bitterness at all. I found it to be much more subtle than a lot of the Bourbons I’ve had. Though I personally don’t think that the price is too out of hand for an 8 year old whiskey, it’s the relative value thing that intrigues me, i.e. can I spend half the money and have a similar experience? Either way, thanks for the info about OGD and BH in your review. I truly had no idea that the two were related!


      • No problem! Don’t get too crazy here – remember that Jim Beam Black is just the white label aged an extra 4 years… Black is good drinking, white is not. Similarly, OGD is not BH.


  2. G-Lo,

    Nice review. You were comparing the Basil Hayden to the OGD 100 proof. I wonder how it would compare to the 86 proof or the 114 proof bottles of OGD. Also, the Basil Hayden spends twice as much time in the barrel so maybe Beam Global feels justified in charging twice the price. Either way it is still demon bourbon and I will have to avoid it. Unless of course, it is out on the table and then I will drink it begrudgingly. You know how picky I am,


  3. I anxiously await your final conclusion. I do like Basil Hayden. It’s almost like bourbon lite…not in a bad way. Like in the sometimes-I-don’t-want-my-bourbon-to-be-an-attention-whore-and-all-up-in-my-grill sort of way.


  4. I’ve only tried BH the one time, and I wasn’t a huge fan. I found it to be a little too easy to forget flavor wise. It’s not a bad whiskey, its just not a very good one for me. Nice review though, I like learning something when I read a good whiskey review. The only other beam small batch that I have and enjoy is Knob Creek, and that one is pretty decent. Can’t wait to read more!




    • Overall, I think the Small Batch Collection is quite good. I’ve reviewed the Knob Creek (still one of my favorites), and I’ve owned a bottle of the Booker’s (potent and delicious from what I remember). I’ve probably had the Baker’s, but it was probably a long time ago. Looking forward to going back and giving them a bit of thought.

      Thanks for the comment Chuck!


  5. G-Lo,

    I’m surprised we’ve never reviewed this one before and as I think about it, I don’t think we’ve done a comprehensive write up on the Beam Small Batch Collection as a whole. We’ll probably need to address that at some point.

    Its been more than 20 years since I had OGD. I bought a bottle for one of my college roommates on his 21st birthday. I don’t think he actually ever drank any of it. I did a few shots with a couple of the sorority girls who lived across the street, but I don’t remember much of the whiskey!

    I agree that Basil Hayden’s is probably the lightest and least complex of the small batch collection. Maybe its the rye content in the mashbill. Its also not a whiskey that I would keep regularly stocked in the whiskey cabinet.

    Great job!


    • Thanks ROK! Glad you enjoyed the write up. I like to mix a bit of research with my own personal experiences.

      Going back to the OGD… you admit to not remembering the whisky, but what about the Sorority girls? Inquiring minds and all that… 😉


  6. One thing i forgot to say was that I really like how even the small 50ml bottle has the “bib”. I find some of the small bottles hilariously small versions of the larger ones to be quite interesting sometimes. Sometimes they stay the same, and sometimes they change a bit. A few small bottles I’d love to see are Blanton’s and Angel’s Envy, two very striking bottle styles and both would look awesome in a small scale.



    • Ha! I had a wee bottle of Blanton’s a couple year ago. Received it as a stocking stuffer. It had the little horse and everything. I am keeping my eyes peeled for the Angel’s Envy. Haven’t seen it yet.


  7. im trying to get something like Old grand Dad in beam small batch in palate feel. If this Basil is ‘Thin and watery mouthfee’l then it’s not like it. I was thinking Bakers but is that like Rare breed cause I don’t like toasty, nutty characters ans wasn’t that big iand soft n the mouth.


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