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Basil Hayden vs Knob Creek Bourbon: Which is Better? (2024)

Basil Hayden vs Knob Creek

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Small-batch whiskeys commercially stand for the upper-premium market, and two of the famed brands are the eponymous Basil Hayden and the notable Knob Creek bourbon whiskey.

Although both flagships came from the same small batch collection, these two have a lot of differences starting from the used mash bill to their proof, and especially, their tasting profile.

Here’s our take on these two small-batch siblings, how they differ, and all the distinctions between Basil Hayden vs Knob Creek.

Knob Creek & Basil Hayden’s In-Depth Comparison 

Bottle of Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s with glass and cigarette

Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s bourbon are siblings from a small batch collection of whiskeys. However, Knob Creek has a bolder flavor profile than Basil Hayden’s.

Knob Creek uses a higher rye grain on its mash bill than Basil Hayden’s.

Also, it has a higher proof, but Basil Hayden’s bottle is more expensive than a bottle of Knob Creek.

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon 

Man Holding Bottle of Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Basil Hayden’s bourbon was introduced in 1992 by Booker Noe. The flagship was inspired by 1792 whiskey pioneer Meredith Basil Hayden Sr.

It uses a high rye mash bill (27 percent rye). After distillation, it is ’artfully aged’ in new American oak barrels and bottled at an entry-level proof of 80.

“Its (Knob Creek) flavor profile is as rich and deep as its history,”

– Adam Harris, Beam Suntory Senior Ambassador

Basil Hayden’s has a clear golden brown hue that delivers a charred oak with a nutty aroma and fruit notes, followed by the thin layers of the sweetness of brown sugar and dried fruits.

It ends with warm rye spice, little heat, and subtle sweet notes at a medium finish. Find out more about how long Basil Hayden is aged here

Alcohol Proof80-proof 
Age StatementNAS (at least two years)
PalateOak, brown sugar, vanilla, black pepper, dried fruit 
ColorGolden Brown
NoseCharred oak, caramel, vanilla, apricot, almond 
FinishMedium finish, warm, rye spice, caramel
How It’s ServedNeat 

Fun Facts

  • Basil Hayden is considered the “Father of High Rye Bourbon,” referred to as ’Old Grand-Dad.’
  • Basil Hayden bourbon has the same mash bill used for Old Grand-Dad. [1]
  • It won double gold in the 2017 New York International Spirits Competition.

Knob-Creek 9-Year Bourbon

Knob Creek 9yo Bourbon Bottle and a Glass on a wooden table

Knob Creek 9-year was also introduced in 1992 by Master Distiller Booker Noe. It is one of the Jim Beam small-batch bourbon brands.

Unlike Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek uses a lower rye grain (13 percent rye) on its mash bill.

This straight bourbon is made from a small number of chosen barrels aged for nine years.

After maturation, Knob Creek imparts bolder flavors on the bourbon whiskey at 100-proof. It delivers sweet notes aroma with hints of baking spices.

The palate is thick with a creamy mouthfeel and is pleasantly warm with bolder notes of oak, vanilla, and sweet fruit with a long, satisfying finish.

Alcohol Proof100-proof
Age Statement9 years or longer
PalateOak, caramel, vanilla, fruity, maple, rye spice, cinnamon
ColorDeep copper to medium amber
NoseCaramel, vanilla, nutty, baking spices
FinishLong finish, dry, 
How It’s ServedOn the rocks, cocktails

Fun Facts

Do Knob Creek 9 & Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Have Similarities?

Bottles of Knob Creek 9 & Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

Yes, Knob Creek 9 and Basil Hayden’s bourbon have similarities. The two brands are owned by Beam Suntory, a Japanese multinational company that produces premium spirits.

These Knob Creek 9 and Basil Hayden’s bourbons are also distilled at the same distillery at the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

Basil Hayden’s vs Knob Creek 9-Year: Price Comparison

 Basil Hayden’s BourbonKnob Creek 9-Year
Average PriceAround $46 for 750mlAround $38 for 750ml

As stated in the table above, a bottle of Knob Creek is more affordable than a bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon. You can easily find both bottles in many local liquor stores. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s the same bourbon?

No, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s are not the same bourbons. Even though it came from one bourbon whiskey distillery line, they differ in the mash content, proof, and taste.

Which is stronger, Basil Hayden’s or Knob Creek bourbon?

Knob Creek is a stronger bourbon than Basil Hayden’s. Knob Creek is bottled at full 100-proof, while Basil Hayden’s has a lighter body bottled at 80-proof.

Is Knob Creek a top-shelf bourbon?

Knob Creek is often considered a top-shelf bourbon due to its high-quality craftsmanship and distinctive flavor profile. As a part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, Knob Creek is crafted with a higher proof and longer aging process, contributing to its robust and full-bodied character.

Its rich, caramel and vanilla notes, coupled with a balanced smokiness, make it a popular choice among bourbon enthusiasts seeking a premium sipping experience.

While individual preferences vary, many connoisseurs recognize Knob Creek as a top-shelf bourbon, ideal for those who appreciate a bold and well-developed whiskey.

Is Basil Hayden the best bourbon?

Determining the “best” bourbon is subjective, as it largely depends on personal taste preferences. However, Basil Hayden’s is widely regarded as an excellent bourbon, celebrated for its unique and lighter profile compared to traditional bourbons.

With a high rye content, Basil Hayden’s offers a spicy yet approachable flavor profile, showcasing notes of peppermint, citrus, and a hint of honey. Its smooth finish and distinctive taste make it a favorite among those who appreciate a more delicate and nuanced bourbon.

While opinions on the “best” bourbon may differ, Basil Hayden’s has earned a reputation for its quality and stands out as a noteworthy choice in the world of premium spirits.

What is better, Basil Hayden or Woodford Reserve?

Choosing between Basil Hayden and Woodford Reserve ultimately depends on individual taste preferences. Basil Hayden’s is known for its lighter, spicier profile with prominent rye notes, making it an excellent choice for those who enjoy a more delicate and nuanced bourbon.

On the other hand, Woodford Reserve is celebrated for its rich and full-bodied flavor, with a well-balanced combination of sweetness, spice, and a lingering finish. Woodford Reserve’s commitment to craftsmanship and its distinct flavor profile have garnered it a strong following among bourbon enthusiasts.

Ultimately, the decision between Basil Hayden and Woodford Reserve comes down to personal taste, as both bourbons offer high-quality experiences with different flavor profiles.

Is Basil Hayden a sipping whiskey?

Yes, Basil Hayden’s is widely regarded as a sipping whiskey. Its lighter and more nuanced flavor profile, characterized by a higher rye content, makes it an excellent choice for savoring and enjoying slowly.

The lower alcohol content compared to some other bourbons contributes to a smoother and more approachable sipping experience.

Whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water to open up its flavors, Basil Hayden’s is crafted to be appreciated by those who prefer a more refined and contemplative approach to whiskey consumption.

Is Knob Creek high end?

Yes, Knob Creek is often considered a high-end bourbon. As part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, Knob Creek distinguishes itself with a meticulous production process, including longer aging and a higher proof.

Its premium qualities, such as a full-bodied flavor profile featuring rich caramel and vanilla notes, contribute to its reputation as a high-end bourbon.

Knob Creek is sought after by discerning whiskey enthusiasts who appreciate the depth and complexity that come with its craftsmanship.

What bourbon does John Wick drink?

In the John Wick film series, the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, is frequently seen drinking Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon. Blanton’s, known for its distinctive bottle design and exceptional quality, has gained popularity among bourbon aficionados. John Wick’s choice of Blanton’s reflects the character’s discerning taste and adds a touch of sophistication to the cinematic experience. While Blanton’s may not be the only bourbon featured in the films, it has become iconic in association with John Wick’s character.

Where does Basil Hayden rank in bourbon?

Basil Hayden’s holds a respected place in the world of bourbon, often considered a premium and well-crafted spirit. Its distinctiveness lies in its higher rye content, delivering a lighter and spicier profile compared to traditional bourbons.

While personal preferences vary, Basil Hayden’s has earned recognition for its nuanced flavor profile, featuring notes of peppermint, citrus, and honey. It appeals to those seeking a more refined and delicate bourbon experience.

Though rankings can be subjective, Basil Hayden’s consistently ranks well among premium bourbons for its quality and unique characteristics.

What is the No 1 bourbon in the world?

Determining the “No 1 bourbon in the world” can be subjective due to varying tastes and preferences. However, some bourbons have achieved widespread acclaim and recognition.

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is often regarded as one of the top-rated and sought-after bourbons globally. The Pappy Van Winkle line, known for its limited availability and exceptional quality, has gained a legendary status in the bourbon community.

Keep in mind that rankings and opinions may change over time, and the notion of the “No 1 bourbon” is influenced by individual preferences and the ever-evolving landscape of the bourbon industry.

What is Basil Hayden similar to?

Basil Hayden’s is often compared to other high-quality bourbons with distinct flavor profiles.

Due to its higher rye content, it shares some similarities with other rye-forward bourbons like Four Roses Single Barrel or even the spicier expressions within the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, such as Booker’s.

However, its lighter and more delicate profile also draws comparisons to wheated bourbons like Maker’s Mark or even other Jim Beam products like Knob Creek, showcasing the versatility of Basil Hayden’s in the bourbon spectrum.

Is Basil Hayden a premium bourbon?

Yes, Basil Hayden’s is widely recognized as a premium bourbon. Its premium status is attributed to several factors, including its unique higher rye mash bill, meticulous craftsmanship, and the use of high-quality ingredients.

The distinctive flavor profile, characterized by notes of peppermint, citrus, and honey, adds to its premium appeal.

The elegant packaging and its association with the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection further contribute to Basil Hayden’s image as a high-end and carefully crafted bourbon, appealing to connoisseurs seeking a refined and sophisticated whiskey experience.

What’s better Knob Creek or Maker’s Mark?

Determining whether Knob Creek or Maker’s Mark is “better” depends on individual taste preferences.

Knob Creek, as part of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, offers a robust and full-bodied flavor with a higher proof and longer aging process. Its rich caramel and vanilla notes cater to those who enjoy a bolder bourbon. In contrast, Maker’s Mark is a wheated bourbon known for its smooth and approachable profile, featuring a softer palate with hints of sweetness.

The choice between Knob Creek and Maker’s Mark often comes down to personal preference, with Knob Creek appealing to those who favor a more intense flavor experience, while Maker’s Mark attracts those seeking a milder and sweeter bourbon.

Is Basil Hayden a real bourbon?

Yes, Basil Hayden’s is indeed a real bourbon. It is a premium small-batch bourbon produced by the Jim Beam Distillery.

Named after Meredith Basil Hayden Sr., a 19th-century distiller, it adheres to the strict standards and regulations set for bourbons, including being distilled from at least 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.

Basil Hayden’s authenticity as a bourbon is affirmed by its adherence to traditional bourbon-making processes, ensuring that it meets the criteria to be classified as a genuine and high-quality whiskey within the bourbon category.

Final Verdict: Basil Hayden Vs Knob Creek

After multiple blind tastings, our team prefers the full-bodied, creamy bourbon from Knob Creek.

It has a solid punch with the layered sweetness of dram that balances the robust oak taste.

Plus, money-wise, Knob Creek has a more affordable bottle—but don’t get us wrong, we also like the flavor of Basil Hayden’s, but it lacks body due to its lower-proof and thin layer of flavors.

Knob Creek captures our palate because of its impressive taste, but both whiskeys are relatively easy to find at fair prices, making them a great everyday bourbon selection.


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