Basil Hayden, Sr.
"Old Grand Dad," & the“King of High Rye”
Basil Hayden Sr. was a descendant of a wealthy Maryland Catholic family that emigrated from England in the 1660's as a result of religious intolerance. They settled in St. Mary's County along the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. During the American Revolution, Basil Sr. supplied provisions to the Colonial Army.
Later in life in 1875 Basil led a contingent of over one hundred Catholic parishioners from twenty-five Catholic families along the Wilderness Road, through the Cumberland Gap to settle on some land near Bardstown, Kentucky. The area in Nelson County later became the location for many future famous bourbon brands, including Jim Beam, heaven Hill, Willett, Barton/1792. It is now referred to as the “Bourbon Capital of the World”
There Hayden family actually donated the land for the first Catholic church in the State of Kentucky as well as the first west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Around 1885, Hayden’s grandson Raymond B. Hayden founded a distillery in Nelson County and named his label “Old Grand-Dad” in honor of his grandfather. Raymond’s mother, Polly, was also a member of another bourbon family belonging to J. W. Dant.
The picture on the bottle of "Old Grand-Dad was copied from a rendering of Basil Sr.’s likeness. Later the same image was used but the marketing team made Basil, Sr. smile and later still had him holding a shot glass.
When Beam Industries introduced their “small batch collection," among the four in 1992 was “Basil Hayden’s”, which the company says uses a mash similar to that originally utilized by Hayden in 1788. it is a high rye mash bill equal to 62% Corn, 28% Rye, 10% Malted Barley.
Basil Hayden's Bourbon is the lowest proof (at 80) and lightest bodied of Beam's "Small Batch Collection" produced by Beam Suntory. The others are Booker's at 120 plus proof, Knob creek at 100 or 120 proof and Baker's Bourbon at 107 proof.
Banner photo by AllPlaidout