Saturday, July 4, 2020

Basil Hayden's 10 Year Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

- $60
- 80 Proof
- 10 Years
- Kentucky

I just got back from a trip to the beach, where I spent a week soaking up sun, playing with my kids in the ocean, and of course drinking a whole bunch of whiskey. This was among the handful of bottles I brought with me. I grabbed it because, despite the low proof and my general history of not really liking Basil Hayden's products, it's really hard for me to pass on a well-aged rye. 

It turns out it ended up being a pretty good choice, review aside. After all, what goes better with vacation than day drinking?!?  But, it's no fun to get absolutely banged up and end up going to bed early and missing all the fun. So, enter the 80 proof rye. This quickly became my go-to when I was looking for a pour either after lunch or later in the afternoon. It was an easy sipper that I could enjoy and still do everything else I wanted to do.

But the whiskey itself? The nose was, as expected, soft and somewhat faint. It was hard to pick up, but I did get a decent amount of sweetness, kind of a brown sugar mixed with white frosting type of note. I also got a certain earthy baked goods note that reminded me a lot of rye bread, even pumpernickel. I don't often get bread notes in american whiskeys, but it was definitely here. It did lack the spice that I usually get of ryes, but perhaps that's due to the low proof--that it was just hard to notice.

The texture of this rye was, as expected, a bit watered down. It certainly comes across as thin and lacking in depth or boldness of flavor. However, it wasn't entirely absent. It had a constant undercurrent of sweet and woody notes, which for me makes a good combination. I got that brown sugar sweetness, and at times it came across as more of a caramel note, perhaps a slightly over-cooked caramel, toasted but not burnt.

To balance out that sweetness, I got a bit of woodiness as well, just a touch of oak. It had a nutty quality to it as well, which itself was sweet.  It reminded me of cashews in that respect. There was also a slight rye bite to it, a bit like a peppery sweet cinnamon. This was the spice I was looking for on the nose but just couldn't find. This is also what told me that this is definitely a Basil Hayden's product, despite being a rye rather than a bourbon, as I always seem to get that black pepper note.

The finish was fairly minimal. It didn't stick around very long, which, again, I attribute to the low proof. As noted above, though, that low proof actually worked for the situation, helping keep me lucid throughout the day, and then I'd switch over to higher proof stuff at night.  It was a good-but-not-great rye, but it sure served its purpose.  While it was a decent whiskey, though, I think I'd want more than just decent for the price.

Grade: B

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