A New Bourbon from Basil Hayden Has Been Revealed, and We've gotten the first taste of the new recipe
Are the whiskey snobs among us going to be pleased with the new Basil Hayden Toast?
It has been known to whiskey lovers for a long time for two main reasons that Basil Hayden has been a part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection since 1992. The first thing to note about this bourbon is that it is known for having a high rye mash bill, which means that the percentage of that secondary flavoring grain is greater than it is in most other bourbons.
Generally, there is an expectation that this will be between 30 and 40 percent of the mash bill, although the precise amount is not disclosed. Because it is bottled at 80 proof, bourbon enthusiasts sometimes complain that the bourbon does not have enough heat and flavor to satisfy their tastes, claiming that it is not strong enough for them to have the bourbon that they are looking for.
Freddie Noe, a eighth generation distiller of the Beam family, says that there's no change in sight for the second point, and he believes that this is just the way things ought to be.
This is a great chance for newcomers to the category (although seasoned vets also enjoy it as well), and Old Grand-Dad 114 is designed to enjoy a mellow drinking experience, and it's a good entry point for newcomers to the category. However, if you're looking for a stronger punch, opt for Old Grand-Dad 114 instead.
Although the familiar high-rye mash bill has been tweaked for this new permanent addition known as Basil Hayden Toast, the original recipe has been maintained. Brown rice was used instead of rye in the mash bill, which was meant to give the bourbon a sweeter taste, while a portion of the bourbon was finished in toasted barrels for a secondary finishing period following the initial maturation process to “discover notes of caramelized sugar and toasted wood,” according to the brand. As part of the bottling process, brown rice bourbon will be blended with this finished bourbon which has been aged exclusively in barrels that have been heated to level four before being bottled.
So why the change in recipe for this new release?
Despite the fact that this is not the first time that Jim Beam has released a brown rice bourbon, it is quite the first. The Signature Craft Brown Rice Bourbon was released a few years back as part of the Harvest Bourbon Collection, and the recently released Little Book Chapter Four (also a Freddie Noe creation) included brown rice bourbon as well.
The difference between this and regular Basil Hayden is certainly noticeable. Although there is still a touch of spice to the start of your sip, it is not nearly as noticeable as it is with the core bourbon. Aside from this, there is also a lot of vanilla and white chocolate, along with some mint, a little orange zest, French toast, and plenty of that recognizable Jim Beam grainy taste underscored by cinnamon and Creamsicle, as well as a touch of mint. In the end, there is almost no burn. As expected, there is almost no burn present.
There is yet another change on the horizon for the brand. You may have noticed that I have been referring to this as "Basil Hayden" in the singular, and not "Basil Hayden's." Those changes have been made to the whole range, and there has also been a new label design that features a monogrammed belt in a way that is intended to evoke the metal hoops that appear on bourbon barrels.
In terms of flavor, overall, I think that Noe and the Beam team have managed to achieve what they set out to do with this bourbon—a softer, more approachable, less spicy bourbon that is innovative yet still extremely easy to drink. There are some whiskey snobs out there who will complain about this, but if you want something that has a bit of alcoholic chutzpah, then there are plenty of other bourbons to drink out there.