This is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the spooky theme of all the decorations. I love jack-o-lanterns. I love seeing the little kids in their costumes. And, I love the candy.
Way back in college, I used to love the parties and the costumes too. But these days, I'm more grown up. I sit at home, hand out candy to the few kids brave enough to head around the neighborhood and watch a spooky movie.
You wouldn't think I would be as happy for Halloween to get here as I am. Ignoring the calendar, before Halloween, it's Autumn. And even though I hate winter, I love Autumn. I love the crisp mornings with the hint of a warm afternoon. I love the fact that, on occasion, I can still get away with shorts and a t-shirt while doing lawn work. The idea that even if you get snow, it probably won't last. But after Halloween, it's winter. November in Minnesota means you are more likely to need a snow shovel than you are shorts.
But in spite of all of that. In spite of the fact that it'll feel more like winter tomorrow than it does today, I still love Halloween. It feels good to indulge my inner child for one night and eat pizza, candy and drink some beer.
All of which has nothing to do with tonight's whiskey, Basil Hayden's Dark Rye. Basil Hayden's Dark Rye is the latest in the line of Basil Hayden brand extensions. It is a blend of Straight Rye whiskey from Kentucky, Canadian Rye whisky from Alberta Distillers, and Port. If this tickles a memory for you, that is because Beam already has a similar product on the market in Alberta Rye Dark Batch. That is a blend of Canadian Rye, Bourbon and Sherry. So similar, but not exactly the same. I didn't care for the Dark Batch, let's see how Dark Rye fares.
Basil Hayden's Dark Rye
Purchase info: $44.99 for a 750 mL at Lakeville Liquors, Lakeville, MN
Details: 40% ABV. A blend of Kentucky straight rye, Alberta Distillers Canadian Rye, and Port.
Nose: Strong caramel notes lead off. Baking Spice, citrus, and ripe red fruits follow.
Mouth: Caramel, lots of baking spice, and ripe red fruits.
Finish: Short, but sweet with jammy wine notes dominating.
Thoughts: I'm going to do something I almost never do. This is getting two ratings from me.
Neat: I was ok with it up until the finish. I don't care for most fortified wines outside of a cocktail and the finish being very wine forward was a problem for me. That said, there is nothing wrong with this if you like that sort of thing. So this gets a dislike from me when tasted neat.
Cocktails: Night and day difference. Because of the fortified wine notes, we first used it in a Manhattan. My wife thought it was ok, but I thought it was a little too sweet. Then I tried swapping the Vermouth in the Manhattan for Amaro (Ramazzotti is my house amaro), and it was really quite good. It accentuated the baking spice notes which was quite tasty. So tasty that I've used most of the rest of the bottle in various cocktails. I've personally favored the ones that feature bitter notes to play off of the sweet fortified wine finish. So it gets a like from me for use in cocktails because this has been a go-to for as long as it has been here.
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