Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tasting: Basil Hayden's Dark Rye

The Basil Hayden’s brand is part of Jim Beam Small Batch Series along with Knob Creek, Booker’s and Baker’s. Basil Hayden’s is kind of the odd one out because instead of being made using Beam’s traditional low-rye mashbill (Used for Knob Creek, Booker’s and Baker’s) it’s created using their high-rye mashbill. Basil Hayden’s is the same juice that goes into Jim Beam’s Old Grand-Dad, just matured for a longer, though unknown period of time.

The Basil Hayden's bourbon brand was introduced in 1992 and is named in honor of Meredith Basil Hayden Sr. Later, Hayden's grandson Raymond B. Hayden founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label "Old Grand-Dad", in honor of his grandfather. Nowadays the Old Grand-Dad bourbon is being made by Beam.

Last year – 2017 – Jim Beam added two new expressions to their Basil Hayden’s portfolio; a Rye and the Dark Rye, which this review is focusing on.

The Dark Rye is a so-called flavored whiskey. As opposed to a barrel finished whiskey, where the distiller mature the whiskey for an extra period of time in a different barrel, often wine, port or sherry, letting the whiskey drawn additional flavors from the barrel, a flavored whiskey contains other alcohol types, which will resolve in a flavor profile where the additional spirits it much more present, some might even say overpowering, in addition to the barrel matured or barrel finished whiskey.

The Dark Rye is made by blending Kentucky rye, Canadian rye (Alberta Distillery), and California port together.

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye
A blend of Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, Canadian Rye Whiskey & Port

Proof: 80
Mash bill: Unknown blend of Kentucky/Canadian rye and California Port
Distillery: Jim Beam
Release: Ongoing
Average US Price: $40USD/255DKK

50/100 points

Absolutely no alcohol burn at all. I’m getting a dominating port wine note, followed by blueberries, apricot and dark syrup.

A really unpleasant taste of artificial sugar substitute “sweeteners”, that runs through the whole tasting profile. The port wine note is dominating the palate in a way that makes it difficult to pick any other flavors out. It’s a juicy/fruity sweet nightmare, with just a hint of rye spices in the background.

More artificial sweetener, that penetrates every inch of your body.

Overall impression:
I honestly believe that Jim Beam’s Dark Rye it’s an experiment gone completely wrong. The port doesn’t compliment the rye at all; instead, it overpowers it beyond recognition, to a point where it destroys the whiskey itself. I don’t believe I have been feeding my sink with whiskey before, but apparently, there’s a first time for all of us.

(This review was written as part of a blind tasting)

Review By: Hasse Berg
Photo By: Linus Jonsson