Thursday, February 21, 2008

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Bourbon - Review

I tasted Basil Hayden for the first time on a summer trip to New York. Basil Hayden is not an overly priced, super-high rated Kentucky bourbon. The bottle and packaging are impressive if not pretentious, with it's copper band and oversize label. No doubt, the packaging will wow them when you bring it to your next gathering.

But let's face it, it's the stuff inside that really matters, and I always get a little nervous when the manufacturer goes over the top on packaging. So, rather than buy a whole bottle of this 8 year old, I was keeping my eyes peeled for an opportunity. Then I spotted it on the Manhatten menu.
As I usually do, I ordered a glass straight up with ice and water on the side. Straight up, the bourbon was very good, but without a lot of distinct flavors that I could detect. It was just a smooth sipping whiskey with caramels and just a tiny floral. But watch out. When I added a spritz of water and ice, the florals came alive! A completely different whiskey emerged. I commented to my wife Valerie that the effect was what I imagined drinking perfume would be, but in a very good way. It was hard to imagine where all that taste of floral and caramel had been hiding on my first straight-up sips.

Later, I admit that I had to pick up a bottle to keep at home. I brought a bottle to a poker night and confirmed the water transformation with the boys. Remarkable.

Basil Hayden's 8 year old Kentucky Bourbon is a bourbon worth owning and cherishing on your liquor shelf. For me, it's a solid daily-drinker for a good price. Just make sure you give it a splash and you'll be on your way to a very distinctive taste.

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