Sunday, January 12, 2020

Basil Hayden's 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $60
- 80 Proof
- 10 Years
- Kentucky

Aside from the rare pour when I'm at a hotel with a limited selection, for instance, I really haven't had regular Basil Hayden's in over five years (though I did like the Dark Rye for what it was).  The problem is that early on in my bourbon journey, when I was drinking less Scotch and starting to explore the bourbon world a bit more, Basil Hayden's was one of the first bourbons I tried.

Needless to say, my memories of that bottle weren't particularly great. I remember it having a significant peppery spice that distracted from all the other flavors, and it was a flavor or note that stuck with me for years. But, when Beam decided to release an older version, the tater in me prevailed and I just couldn't help myself. Although I didn't go out specifically looking for this bottle, I did immediately grab it once I came across it on the shelf.

The nose did not hit me with that peppery spice that I thought I was going to get going in.  In fact, it had a great, rich and fruity nose, full of cherry and plum. It also had a nice, rich chocolate note throughout. On later pours I noticed a distinct black licorice scent, but, even though I'm not really a fan of black licorice, still worked with everything else. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed sniffing each pour.

Unfortunately, the flavor just didn't quite live up.  The first thing I noticed was a blend of vanilla and black pepper.  I don't know if I've tricked my mind into tasting that whenever I have Basil Hayden's, but this vanilla/pepper note was there for me on every sip.

There were some other flavors that added some complexity and good flavor to this bourbon. I got a nice chocolate-orange note, reminding me a bit of those chocolate oranges that you'd have to smash on the table to break apart before eating. It lacked the sweetness, however.

In fact, I even got some cherry notes to go with the chocolate and orange, and at times I was reminded of an old fashioned, but one without the muddled sugar or simple syrup. It had the flavors, but not the sweetness. To be honest, that in and of itself is not so bad, as I don't always want something sweet. But, along with that unsweetened old fashioned note I also got a weird cardboard flavor. Now, I don't chew on cardboard on the regular, but I'm pretty sure most people can relate to the flavor, and that's what I was getting here.

While there were parts of this bourbon that I really liked, and some that I found to be a bit weird, all in all I found this bourbon to be underwhelming. I don't know that the extra aging added a whole lot of flavor or complexity. In fact, I found it to be not very flavorful generally.  I wanted more boldness in the flavor, especially after getting so much off the nose.

Grade: B-

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