Review: Basil Hayden Dark Rye

Every now and then, we all stumble across something that we just don’t like.  Something that’s just slightly off-putting for our palates, something that is a proverbial “turd in the punchbowl”.  This is the story of my turd.

Early in my days of whiskey, I ran across a bottle of Basil Hayden Dark Rye.  It was behind the counter, it had a cool bottle, and it was allocated.  I was sold.  I had tried their normal bourbon offering and while not very exciting, it wasn’t bad.  I had read a brief synopsis of it on their website and it sounded an awful lot like High West’s A Midwinter Night’s Dram, which is a favorite of mine.  The key difference here seems to be that port is added to Basil Hayden Dark Rye and MWND is finished in port and french oak barrels.  Whereas MWND tastes like Christmas in a glass, Basil Hayden Dark Rye tastes like someone took a bottle of port and put a splash of rye in it and sold it as  80 proof whiskey.

I’ve really tried to enjoy this bottle.  I’m not a wine drinker, so maybe that’s part of my problem, but I cannot find anything that I like about this particular whiskey.  The nose smells like dark berries and is reminiscent of my childhood when I was playing around with cooking at home and came across a bottle of Holland House Red Cooking Wine.  This could be the same thing…and I’m not convinced yet that it isn’t.  The palate is…you guessed it, dark berries and tastes a lot like port wine.  Luckily, the finish is short and berry filled…yay.

I would not really recommend this bottle to anyone.  If I had to, I’d say this bottle may be for someone that enjoys port wine, but doesn’t like whiskey.  It won’t help bridge that gap or anything, but it might confirm their tastes.  Leave this one on the store shelf and save yourself some heartache.  Find yourself a bottle of MWND when they’re released in the fall/winter and see what a truly masterful blend of rye and port actually can be.

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