Since its first launch in 1992, Basil Hayden has amassed a loyal following among bourbon Wine drinkers who appreciate a lighter rim for their liquid of choice. This is exactly what Booker Noe set out to achieve when he envisioned a whiskey containing 80 whiskeys. It has remained remarkably steady since then. The sixth generation distillery passed away in 2004. But today, his grandson, Freddy Noe, runs the Basil Hayden brand as part of Jim Beam’s small-batch group. Recently, it has been introducing innovation into the line while maintaining its hallmark. Latest example: Basil Hayden’s red wine barrel finish.
To craft the limited-edition bourbon, Noe blends Kentucky’s flagship 80’s straight-forward bourbon with bourbon, which has been partially aged in California red wine casks. It differs from the more traditional finishing process, in which all whiskey is repackaged in wine-prepared casks for a secondary aging. Noe also provides no details about exactly where the barrels came from, nor what kind of red wine they were previously holding.
However, the release is not some kind of marketing ploy. He’s holding currants in the nose and pulling dried fruit berries across the palate—not the kind of thing you can get away with a plain pour of Basil Hayden. What it offers, however, is true to the look is its signature softness.
Yes, “smooth” is a term that some witches despise. But this is their problem. This drama goes without a fight, as Nature intended – and Noes. In fact, Freddy made this whiskey with the aperitif in mind. So a very good Basil Hayden Red Wine Cask can be an entry bourbon for seasoned wine drinkers. Or maybe it’s cocktail fodder for the curious whiskey lover. Either way, it’s a light, easy-to-drink bourbon. There is nothing wrong with that.
“We are creating new ways for consumers to enjoy our luscious, alluring expressions through unique barrel finishes and innovative versions,” says Jonathan Marks, of the global small batch bourbon team at Beam Suntory – Jim Beam’s parent company. Basil Hayden Red Wayne Cask Finish continues Basil Hayden’s mission to [open] Upgrade the category to new drinkers and occasions.”
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