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Bakers vs. Basil Haydens vs. Bookers

Sorry if this has been covered in other posts. I don't have much of a wallet and when I buy bourbon, I usually buy Maker's Mark. I went through a Knob Creek phase a couple of years ago, but now I think Maker's is smoother. Can people tell me which of the above higher-priced bourbons would be the one to drop an extra 20-25 bucks on? I know its all based on personal taste, but I would just like to hear people's thoughts. Thanks.

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  1. Is there any reason you've picked those three? They are, of course, all part of the Jim Beam small batch collection, which is heavily hyped, but, IMHO, not all that great.

    For a similar price, you could get Woodford Reserve, or even better, Buffalo Trace, which are better Bourbons.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sku

      I agree with you. Much more bang for the buck with Woodford's or Buffalo Trace.

    2. Of the three you mentioned my choice would be Booker's. One way to look at the JB small batch collection is that they all vary mainly in proof with Basil Hayden's being the lowest in the mid 80's, KB at 100, Bakers around 110, and Booker's at barrel strength is in the upper 120's. I didn't like Basil Haydens at all and thought it was the least favorite in the line being too light in flavor and body. I haven't had Bakers in several years but it may deserve another tasting sometime. I drank KC for quite some time but now I feel it is too sweet and spicy. Bookers has a heavier mouthfeel and longer finish IMO if you don't mind the heat.

      I agree with sku and suggest branching out of the JB line. For the price range of Booker's (around $50-55 here in KY) I would try to find George Stagg. It comes in at a hefty 144 proof but if you're not used to that you can easily titrate the proof with a few drops of water to you liking and it actually opens up a wider flavor profile. Also, since you like Maker's, you might want to find15 yo Pappy van winkle as they are both wheated bourbons. It is also hard to also but has smoother profile and is a bit more polished around the edges and for the price is a good value.

      1. I've tried them all, and just keep coming back to Makers.

        1. I second the recommendation for Buffalo Trace, but I do not like Woodford Reserve. WR tastes like paint thinner to me. Of the three you've chosen, tho, I'd go with Bookers.

          1. Of the three, Booker's. Massive flavor and almost a decent value due to the cask proof. Haven't had Baker's in too long. Like Basil Hayden for its little bit of spiciness, but have graduated to better and cheaper ryes.

            I definitely agree to look into Buffalo Trace. And I'll throw Evan Williams Single Barrel as another to consider. Both are more reasonable than your threesome.

            1. For the price: Basil Hayden

              For straight bourbon: Booker's

              1. Thanks for all the input. I guess I mentioned these three because they are relatively popular and alwasy prominently displayed in the stores. I think I'll give the Buffalo Trace a shot since it comes so highly recommended.

                1. Some other very nice options:
                  Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve
                  Wild Turkey Rare Breed
                  W.L. Weller 12 year
                  W.L. Weller 107 Antique
                  Eagle Rare 10 year

                  1. Van Winkle, as old as you can afford. IMO, it's the only one for which ther is a direct, measurable correlation between the age and the quality. If you can find & afford the 25 yo Family reserve, it's the best I've ever had. the 21 is near and the 15 is almost there. maybe it would be better to go from the younger to the older, so you appreciate the jump each time.

                    1. Eagle Rare has the same smooth finish as Basil Haydens for less money. You might want to get a bottle of Michter's Single Barrel 10 year old - if you can find it. It is a dark bourbon, aromatic and very smooth. Now that Woodford Reserve is being produced in such large quantities it seems to have lost something. Use WR to make manhattans and sip something else.

                      1. BTW, for a while Costco had all three of these in a box set for $99. I availed myself of one and have been enjoying it immensely, especially the Booker's and the Baker's. The Basil Hayden is just "meh" IMO.