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

Last Updated on January 17, 2023 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 Angel’s 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

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
ColorGold
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

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]. 

Final Verdict

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.     

References:

  1. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130709006366/en/Louisville-Distilling-Co.-Breaks-Ground-on-New-Angel 
  2. https://robbreport.com/food-drink/spirits/angels-envy-cask-strength-bourbon-1234767376/ 

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