Who in their right mind would want peppermint flavors and rye, lots of rye distilled in their straight bourbon whiskey? A gentleman named Basil Hayden back in 1796 thought it would be a good idea, so he started experimenting and eventually created his signature recipe, which has been religiously carried down through the ensuing centuries.

And just how old is this bourbon? No one on the outside really knows for sure anymore and them that do know ain’t talkin’! You see, it’s becoming quite popular for distillers to remove age statements from their spirits. No, this isn’t some kind of ploy by the distillers to stretch and increase their product lines therefore earning more profit. Actually, it allows the distillers to better blend their spirits to attempt to produce the same high quality liquor they have always produced even though certain lots of highly aged spirits are becoming rarer. Hayden’s Bourbon used to be 8 years old, and rumor now puts it closer to 6 years old, but remember age is not an assurance of quality, and friends inform me that they can’t really tell the difference between the two. All this talk of minty flavors and tons of rye have my mouth watering, so let’s get on with the tasting.


Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey comes in a clear bottle with the label draped over the neck and cinched in the middle with a copper strip bearing the initials BH engraved in metal. Mighty darn interesting approach, which I’m pretty certain will make it stand out on the shelf in the liquor store. They may not actually put peppermint in this bourbon, but you couldn’t tell by the nose. I get a blast of peppermint and rye in the nose followed quickly by oak and sugar and some mighty fine smelling bourbon. The palate presents in much the same way as I initially perceive the peppermint and rye then the bourbon and oak along with a touch of citrus and spice but not enough spice to make it unpleasant. The finish is short and spicy leaving the taste of rye, bourbon, oak, sugar and citrus. This is one complex and layered bourbon and the rye actually works well in this particular recipe. It’s no wonder they haven’t messed with old Basil’s recipe; it’s a winner.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon can found for around $44.00 to $53.00 and weighs in at 80 proof or 40% ABV.


By George Brozowski