An Autumn Sipper To Tickle Your Fancy

This year’s Basil Hayden’s release unveiled, what I thought, was a cool idea for a blend. We’re talking about the new Dark Rye bottled blending Kentucky straight rye whiskey, Canadian rye from the Alberta Distillery, and a kiss of California port wine to add both a hint of fruity sweetness and a deep garnet color to the finished product.

It’s nice to see a big distiller like Jim Beam going out of comfort zones by creating a rye blend with a splash of port and really embracing the experimentation instead of focusing on the nasty trend of flavored whiskey. I also couldn’t think of a better holiday whiskey release for the Fall season.

Released September 2017, Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye is bottled at 40% ABV, 80 proof. For this review I will be tasting the whiskey with and without a few drops of water in a brandy sniffing glass.

Tasting Notes: Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye

Contents: 40% ABV // 80 proof // Blend of KY Rye, Canadian Rye and California Port Wine

MSRP: Approx. $40 depending on market.

Appearance: Deep garnet. Autumn leaves in the glass

Nose: Balanced mixture of the rye spice and the fruity tannins from the wine. Very lovely aroma as the fruit starts opening up with cinnamon and maple syrup.

Palate: Very rich on the tongue. Thick mouthfeel. The sweetness of the plums and blackberries in the port wine jumps straight out at you and almost overpowers the glass if not for the rye spice fighting for a seat at the table. There is also a lot of vanilla hiding in plain sight. 

Finish: Medium finish. Very dry fruit and soft lingering rye spice.


As a Jim Beam fan, I liked this blend a lot. The deep spice from the Kentucky rye paired with the softer rye from Canada creates a nice trifecta with the hint of port. This is definitely not a daily sipper, but I would enjoy this on every occasion I felt necessary it be opened. I also immediately knew this would enhance a Manhattan so if you’re interested in an Autumn inspired Manhattan go on and hit this link. I don’t think the Dark Rye is for everyone however. I love to try experimental whiskey even if I notice a particular whiskey won’t agree with my palate, but many others have found the flavor profile they like and pursue bottles along those lines so unless you enjoy port wine, rye whiskey and maybe a nice Robusto I suggest you pass on this one. 


Drinker Type: Wine lovers, cigar lovers and rye whiskey lovers will enjoy this one. It’s not a daily sipper by any means, but this release is for the experiment lovers overall.

Worth buying again? I would buy it again, sure. For $40 I’d keep a bottle around every now and then.

Tasting Notes From Basil Hayden:

Color: Deep, rich amber with ruby undertones

Aroma: Oaky notes balanced with dark berries and molasses

Taste: Complex blend of caramel, dried fruit, and oak with back notes of spice and a rounded mouth feel

Finish: Lingering dried fruit with a hint of sweetness and rye spice.

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was purchased by Superfly Bourbon Club. In no way, does acquiring the bottle in any form manipulate the direction of this review. Some information sourced from

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima is a full time Graphic Designer, amateur writer and Creative Director of Superfly Bourbon Club. He has been a long-time bourbon enthusiast and advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His number one goal in the bourbon universe is to educate new-comers and develop a unique brand of like-minded individuals.

View all posts by Michael Inglima

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