Basil Hayden Red Wine Cask Finish is a new, limited-edition release from the Kentucky label that sees its bourbon partially finished in California red wine casks. It takes on a ruddy copper hue in appearance, and has a rich, fruity, spicy aroma that brings forth fruit leather, ginger and spice.
Red Wine Cask Finish is lush and mellow on the palate, in keeping with Basil Hayden’s characteristic lightness. But it’s a different ballgame flavor wise, starting with fruit leather, juicy berries, and ginger before sweetening to candied ginger and strawberry jam at the center. Those red wine notes really sing at the back and manifest as a sweet, jammy red bursting with fruit flavor before being joined by light oak spice on the finish. Its sweet, lightly spiced finish brings to mind an oak cask that’s still wet with wine.
While Basil Hayden’s lightness is perhaps its biggest selling point, its purposeful mellowness hadn’t satisfied me in the past. But when coupled to the red wine finish it produces a bourbon that’s light, spicy, and sweet—a good combination.
I also enjoyed this whiskey in a Manhattan, where its wine-influenced character coupled to sweet vermouth made for a cocktail that was rich, fruity, and rounded.