Basil Hayden's is the lightest bodied bourbon whiskey in the family of Jim Beam small batch bourbons. It is 80 proof in contrast with its three sibling brands of higher concentration (Knob Creek, Booker's, and Baker's).
Basil Hayden is named in honor of Basil Hayden, Sr. Hayden was a Maryland Catholic who led a group of twenty five Catholic families from Maryland into what is now Nelson County, Kentucky (near Bardstown) in 1785. This area is home to many of the famous bourbon labels, including Jim Beam. There Hayden founded the first Catholic church west of the Alleghenies and the first Catholic church in what is now the state of Kentucky.
Hayden was also an accomplished distiller and used a larger amount of rye in his mash than in some other bourbons. Later, Hayden's grandson founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label in honor of his pioneer grandfather. That label was "Old Grand Dad". The picture on the bottle is copied from a rendering of Basil Sr.'s likeness. When Beam Industries introduced their "small batch" collection, among the four was "Basil Hayden's", which supposedly uses a mash similar to that originally utilized by Hayden back in 1792.
In 1796, Master Distiller Basil Hayden Sr. broke 'the rules' by mixing small grains into the mash of a traditional corn base. His recipe was a masterpiece, resulting in a unique, singular small batch bourbon whiskey that was blessed with rich hints of peppermint, notes of pepper, slight citrus overtones, and a spicy, warming finish.