I tend to lump my Bourbons into two distinct categories: those I like to drink neat or on the rocks, and those I use in cocktails. Often the ones at the lower end of the price spectrum aren’t as palatable neat, whereas I’m often loathe to mix higher-end bourbons with anything. So when I sat down to taste Basil Hayden’s, I tried it both ways and really wondered where I’d land with it.
The recipe used to distill Basil Hayden’s dates back more than 200 years. It’s made from both rye and corn to create a Bourbon with a wider flavor profile, and to this day they still use that same recipe. Sipping it neat I found an appealing nose laced with toasted hazelnut and chamomile tea. The palate is layered and generous, stuffed with gentle wave after wave of apricot, peach, and white pepper. The finish is mellifluous and pleasing with more pepper, hints of gingerbread, and a touch of soft heat that reverberates persistently. It has some of that classic bourbon bite, but it’s smoother than most in this category. Next I made cocktails using several recipes on the Basil Hayden’s website. One of them stood out to me in particular and that recipe follows below. It’s a great summer drink, andI recommend putting a pitcher of it together for a party or BBQ — and with a suggested retail price of $36.99, it won’t set you back too much to provide for all your guests.
What I like most about Basil Hayden’s is its diversity. I enjoyed it neat as much as I did mixed into a cocktail. For the price point it’s easy to justify mixing it into cocktails, too. For me that means it’s a very useful bourbon to keep on my shelf; think of it as the super-utility player of whiskeys that will step into whatever position you need it to. It’s not very often that I find a spirit that sits right at the intersection of value and complexity, but Basil Hayden’s does. Bottom line: this is delicious bourbon that you should be drinking, however you choose.
Recipe for Basil Hayden’s Nine to Five Punch
12 parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
5 parts pineapple juice
3½ parts lemon juice
4 parts maple syrup
5 dashes bitters
33 parts club soda
Add Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, pineapple juice, lemon juice, maple syrup and bitters in a medium punch bowl. Stir ingredients until maple syrup has fully dissolved. Add a few large ice cubes, sparkling water, and float lemon and pineapple slices on top.