Liquor Laboratory

Angel’s Envy vs Basil Hayden Bourbon: Which is Better?

Angel’s Envy vs. Basil Hayden 

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Kentucky straight bourbons like Angel’s Envy and Basil Hayden are two must-haves in every home bar.

But which of the two can offer the best experience? Let’s find out.

Check this in-depth comparison between Angels Envy vs Basil Hayden – how they differ in terms of production, maturation, tasting notes, and pricing, plus quick facts you need to know.   

Angel’s Envy & Basil Hayden In-Depth Comparison

Angel’s Envy & Basil Hayden Bottle with Cocktail Glasses

Angel’s Envy brings a unique drinking experience, delivering sugary and fruity notes, unusual among other bourbons.

It’s smooth with very little to no burn, following a long and easy finish. 

This isn’t a full expression, and the proof could be improved, but it’s interesting and enjoyable as it is. 

On the other hand, Basil Hayden is just your typical bourbon with the standard proof.

Although it’s a balanced and smooth bourbon, the finish is short and common. 

How They Compare 

DifferencesAngel’s EnvyBasil Hayden
Average PriceAround $51/750mlAround $45/750ml
Alcohol Proof86-proof80-proof
Age StatementNASNAS
Mash Bills72% corn, 10% malted barley, 18% rye63% corn, 10% malted barley, 27% rye

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon 

Bottle of Basil Hayden on a wooden table, angels envy vs basil hayden

Crafted with a higher rye mash, Basil Hayden is aged for at least four years using new American oak barrels at the James B. Beam Distilling Co.  

Bottled at 80-proof, it produces a golden-brown spirit with common and decent tasting notes. 

Nose Sweet vanilla notes and charred oak, dried fruit and caramel
PalateFlavors of charred oak with brown sugar, black pepper, and dried fruit
ColorGolden Brown 
FinishBrief with dried fruit and charred oak hints 
How It’s ServedNeat
Comparable ToWoodford Reserve & Knob Creek

With the flavor profile of Basil Hayden, it is better sipped neat to enjoy all it has to offer, especially its high-rye note. But it’s not the kind of bourbon to add to cocktails. 

“Basil Hayden’s has always been known for its distinctive spicy finish, so innovating in the rye category continues to be an exciting venture for the brand, especially as interest in the category grows exponentially.”

— Rob Mason, Marketing VP at Whiskey at Beam Suntory

It’s low-proof and lacks the body to match well with mixers. But if you want to enjoy it in cocktails, we suggest making the following drinks: 

  • Golden Hour
  • Classic Mint Julep
  • Gentleman’s Scofflaw
  • Whiskey Smash 

Fun Facts 

Basil Hayden's Bottle Label
  • The distillery, where Basil Hayden is crafted, is under Suntory Holdings— a Japan-based company. 
  • Introduced in 1992, it was named to honor the distiller Basil Hayden that went beyond the grain by adding rye to the standard mash bill. 
  • Basil Hayden is the “Father of High Rye Bourbon,” referred to as “Old Grand-Dad.”   

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon 

Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon  Bottle and glass with ice

Angel’s Envy is aged around 4-6 years using virgin, charred oak white barrels. Then, it is finished in Ruby Port wine barrels for almost six months before bottling at 86-proof. 

The additional months of finishing in wine casks produce unique tasting notes.   

Nose Aromas of vanilla, coconut, and chocolate
PalateFlavors of bread, caramel, fruit, maple syrup, and vanilla
FinishLong and smooth with baking spice toasted oak, and Madeira notes
How It’s ServedNeat
Comparable ToBuffalo Trace & Four Roses Single-Barrel

To experience all the flavors of Angel’s Envy, it is better consumed neat, or you can drink it straight up. 

We don’t suggest adding it to cocktails or mixed drinks due to its mellow notes, which mixers will overpower.

But if you really want to, you can try it with the following cocktails: 

  • Old-Fashioned
  • The Henderson
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Manhattan 
  • Brown Derby  

Fun Facts 

Pouring Angel’s Envy Bottle on a Jigger
  • Angel’s Envy was a creation by Lincoln Henderson, the same master distiller who created the Gentleman Jack and Woodford Reserve.
  • Louisville Distilling Company produces Angel’s Envy, a subsidiary of Bacardi Limited [1]. 
  • Received five stars from Spirit’s Journal by F. Paul Pacult.  

Angel’s Envy vs Basil Hayden Price Comparison Chart

Prices are based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price per 750ml. 

Angel’s EnvyBasil Hayden
Average Price$51$45

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Basil Hayden better sipped neat than Angel’s Envy?

Basil Hayden is better sipped neat if you’re into low-proof spirits.

Angel’s Envy is way better for sipping neat or straight up due to its fruity notes and very smooth finish. 

Are Angel’s Envy and Basil Hayden bourbons easy to find?

Angel’s Envy is harder to find compared to Basil Hayden.

You can easily grab a bottle of Basil Hayden at liquor stores, while Angel’s Envy is one of the scarce bourbons today [2]. 

Is Basil Hayden good whiskey?

Basil Hayden’s is widely regarded as good whiskey, known for its smooth and approachable profile.

As part of the Beam Suntory portfolio, Basil Hayden’s is recognized for its high-rye mash bill, resulting in a bourbon with a balanced and light flavor, making it appealing to both seasoned whiskey enthusiasts and those new to the world of bourbon.

Is Angel’s Envy bourbon good?

Angel’s Envy bourbon is highly praised and considered a premium whiskey. Renowned for its unique finishing process in port wine barrels, Angel’s Envy offers a distinctive and complex flavor profile.

The combination of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and innovative aging techniques contributes to its reputation as a high-quality and enjoyable bourbon.

Where does Basil Hayden rank in bourbon?

Basil Hayden’s holds a notable place in the bourbon landscape, often recognized for its distinct characteristics.

As part of the Jim Beam Small Batch collection, Basil Hayden’s stands out for its high-rye content, providing a lighter and spicier profile compared to other bourbons.

While personal taste preferences vary, many bourbon enthusiasts appreciate Basil Hayden’s for its approachability and unique flavor profile, securing its spot as a respected and well-regarded bourbon.

Why is Angel’s Envy so expensive?

Angel’s Envy’s higher price tag can be attributed to several factors that contribute to its premium status in the bourbon market. The finishing process in port wine barrels adds a layer of complexity to the flavor profile, requiring additional time and resources.

The use of high-quality ingredients, attention to detail in craftsmanship, and the limited availability of certain expressions also contribute to the higher cost.

Additionally, the brand’s commitment to innovation and delivering a unique drinking experience further justifies the premium pricing of Angel’s Envy bourbons, making them sought after by enthusiasts willing to invest in a distinctive and exceptional whiskey.

What is as good as Basil Hayden?

Several bourbons are often considered comparable to Basil Hayden’s, depending on individual taste preferences.

Options like Knob Creek, Booker’s, and Baker’s, all part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, offer unique characteristics and flavor profiles that may appeal to those who enjoy Basil Hayden’s smooth and spicy style.

Is Basil Hayden just Jim Beam?

While both Basil Hayden’s and Jim Beam are produced by the same company, Beam Suntory, Basil Hayden’s is distinct from the flagship Jim Beam bourbon.

Basil Hayden’s is part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, known for its higher rye content and lighter, spicier profile, providing a unique and separate identity within the portfolio.

What rank is Angel’s Envy?

Angel’s Envy is often regarded as a top-tier bourbon, earning high praise and accolades within the whiskey community.

Its unique finishing process in port wine barrels, complex flavor profile, and commitment to quality craftsmanship contribute to its elevated status.

While individual rankings may vary, Angel’s Envy consistently holds a prominent place among premium bourbons.

What makes Angel’s Envy different?

Several factors set Angel’s Envy apart in the bourbon landscape. The brand’s distinctive finishing process involves aging the bourbon in port wine barrels, imparting unique flavors and a velvety mouthfeel.

This innovative approach contributes to a complex and layered taste profile that distinguishes Angel’s Envy from traditional bourbons.

Additionally, the brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability, transparency, and the use of high-quality ingredients further underscore its uniqueness and contribute to its reputation as a premium and forward-thinking bourbon.

Why is Angel’s Envy not a bourbon?

Angel’s Envy, although produced with the same foundational principles as bourbon, does not meet the traditional classification due to its unique finishing process.

While it starts as a bourbon, the whiskey undergoes an additional aging period in port wine barrels, altering its characteristics.

This innovative step places it in the category of “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Wine Barrels,” rather than a straightforward bourbon.

What is the No 1 bourbon in the world?

Determining the number one bourbon in the world can be subjective and may vary based on individual preferences and rankings.

However, bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Buffalo Trace, and Four Roses Single Barrel often receive acclaim and top rankings for their quality, flavor profiles, and historical significance in the bourbon industry.

Is Basil Hayden a smooth bourbon?

Basil Hayden’s is widely acknowledged for its smooth and approachable characteristics.

With its higher-than-average rye content in the mash bill, Basil Hayden’s offers a lighter and spicier profile compared to some other bourbons, contributing to its reputation as a smooth and easy-drinking whiskey.

Is Basil Hayden a sweet bourbon?

Basil Hayden’s is known for having a slightly sweet profile, but it is not overwhelmingly so. The higher rye content in its mash bill introduces a hint of spice that complements the sweetness.

This balance creates a nuanced flavor profile that appeals to those who appreciate bourbons with a touch of sweetness without being overly sugary, contributing to Basil Hayden’s reputation for complexity and drinkability.

Final Verdict: Angels Envy vs Basil Hayden

As you can see, it’s clear that Angel’s Envy can absolutely capture many drinkers’ standards, especially beginners, for its unique and impressive profile. 

We prefer Angel’s Envy over Basil Hayden, not just for its tasting notes but also for its value for money.

Some may not agree, but Basil Hayden is overpriced, given its common profile. 

Basil Hayden is good, though, but it’s not as excellent as Angel’s Envy overall.

We highly recommend Angel’s Envy for anyone–experienced and beginners.     


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