Old Grand Dad is very old brand founded in 1882. In the beginning, the barrel was the primary package for selling the whiskey, but in the 1890s the brand began to be bottled and Basil Hayden’s image was on the label. Basil Hayden always had a big smile on his face as he raises a jigger of whiskey, as if offering a drink to the consumer. Even before bottling, the firm of Barber, Ferriell & Co., used an image in print advertising of a man, presumably Basil Hayden, straddling a barrel, with a whiskey thief in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other, looking like he is having a very good time.
Basil Hayden’s image was that of a very happy man with his shot of whiskey. That begins to change in the later part of the 20th century. Hayden develops a more serious look on his face and lost the shot of whiskey. That alone would explain the labels with the dour look on his face, but it also reflected the change in attitude. The designers at National Distillers must have determined that there was something undesirable about Hayden looking like he is having a good time drinking his whiskey. Maybe they thought it was being socially un-responsible. The fact is that as Bourbon sales declined in the 70s and 80s, Basil Hayden became more dour looking – almost grumpy looking.
Jim Beam acquired the brand in the 1980s and at first they did not change the image. When they introduced the small batch collection and the Basil Hayden brand, He became a bit less grumpy looking. They use an image of what is obviously a bust of Basil Hayden’s head. They did not give him back his glass of whiskey, but they did at least put a smile back on his face. We can hope that in the future, they will give Basil back his drink of whiskey and make him a very happy person once again.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach
February 1, 2021 at 2:21 am
I have been researching my family tree and the Old Grand-Dad pictures especially the one with my 1st cousin 6x’s removed R.B.Hayden and Barrett Tinnell sitting on the barrel. While visiting my great uncle Duke Tinnell when he was living, he showed me the picture he had of Barrett Tinnell who was my 3x’s great grandfather sitting on the barrel. I have a copy of that picture. I have talked with others in our family and they have been told the same thing and someone in the family also has the same picture I do. I notice in the article that you said, presumably Basil Hayden” Wondering what your thoughts on the picture I have of the man on the barrel?
Hope to hear from you,
February 2, 2021 at 4:54 pm
I would have to see your picture to offer any thoughts.
October 23, 2021 at 3:29 am
Crazy! My grandma was a Hayden. From Loretta, KY. I researched the family back to 1000 AD. Basil is my 5 x great uncle. The Hayden’s came to America and settled in Southern Maryland where the bourbon industry was located at that time. Then, Kentucky was settled, and their great limestone filtered water was discovered. The whiskey industry moved to Kentucky, and so did the Hayden’s. Crazy thing is I grew up in Kentucky but I now live in Southern Maryland!