Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Rye
As a rye whiskey fan, I knew I’d end up wanting to try this bottle if it made it to my area. When I heard it was on the shelf at the local store I had to make a trip to check it out. Let’s dig in, and see what Basil Hayden has for us today!
So here we have the highest age-stated rye coming from Basil Hayden’s portfolio, to sit alongside it’s sister-bottling of Basil Hayden’s 10 year bourbon. Released as a purported limited edition, in certain areas, it continues along the same premium price-point as the rest of the Basil Hayden lineup with a SRP of $69. From Basil Hayden’s website:
Our newest addition to the family is making a name for itself by becoming our first rye whiskey with this distinguished of an age statement.
The mashbill features a slightly spicy, yet approachable, rye resulting in an elegantly complex taste profile and a golden honey hue. This light, yet full-flavored, rye is sure to please any palate.
Serving neat, with a drop of water, or on the rocks opens up all of the flavors that were developed from ten years of aging, such as spice, oak, caramel, and tobacco. At 80 proof, this rye can be easily enjoyed without the burn associated with higher-proof whiskeys.
So, it’s time for a pour. Of note (for me) was the color. It looks very rich. It coats the glass pretty well, and I’m excited to get in for a sip.
Nose – A touch of rye after swirling, but this is predominantly vanilla and caramel. Some honey working around in there. I’m not able to suss out many discerning features here–but it’s evident this is 40% ABV as there’s essentially zero ethanol on the nose.
Taste – Silky on the palate. A nice mouthfeel for sure, and that earns a lot of credit with me. The taste is big sweet caramel. There is oak, but nowhere near as much as I’d have expected with the age and color. Rye spice comes in, but there’s effectively zero heat in the sip, which I find myself missing with a rye–this is definitely a bourbon-drinker’s rye, but it’s walking the line on being too light. Big takeaway on the sip is that it’s sweet and goes down incredibly easy.
Finish – Brief. If this hadn’t coated the palate nicely from the first sip I’d wonder if there is much finish here at all. It’s a sweeter rye with a touch of spice, but it just doesn’t hang around very long for me.
Bourbon Finder Grade: C+
The 10 year rye from Basil Hayden’s lineup is a bit of a head-scratcher. On one hand, you’ve got a whiskey that I believe any drinker would describe with the stereotypical notes of “smooth, approachable, drinkable” and things of that nature; while, on the other hand, whiskey enthusiasts and geeks (especially those familiar with a nice spicy rye) are more likely to feel like this is a light expression that falls short of earning it’s price tag. It tastes good and brings a decent velvety feel along for the ride, but is about twenty proof points lower than I’d like to see. In terms of bringing an age-stated and nicely packaged (albeit more entry level) rye to the market, I’d say this is a home run. Sadly, whiskey geeks might find themselves leaving this limited edition on the shelf.
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!