Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon
Because I am a fan of Bulleit Bourbon and an even bigger fan of Bulleit Rye, I was really excited to review Bulleit 10. Their standard Bulleit Bourbon has a high rye content and Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon uses the same mash bill. I am glad that Bulleit decided to come out with a 10 year bourbon. I feel that 10 years is a very good age. Let’s see what a few extra years in the barrel has to offer!
Bulleit is another brand that is relatively new to the whiskey industry having been introduced in 1999. Tom Bulleit founded the company and produced his first product, Bulleit Bourbon, with a nod to his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit, who was a distiller in the 1830’s. According to Bulleit’s website, Augustus had high rye content in his bourbon as well. Bulleit is owned by the spirits conglomerate Diageo, and is their first bourbon brand.
Although Bulleit had plans to distill at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Diageo has decided to build a brand new distillery in Shelby County, Kentucky. They broke ground in August, 2014 and plan to be up and running at the end of 2016. As of right now, however, they are a non-distilling company. They have also just opened the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller, which hosts tastings where you can learn about the brand. Right now, their bourbon is distilled elsewhere at the Four Roses Distillery. It is important to note that the mash bill that is used for Bulleit bourbon isn’t used for any of the recipes that Four Roses uses for their own bourbon. Interestingly though, Bulleit Rye isn’t distilled at Four Roses Distillery, but at MGP in Indiana.
Some people have a big problem with brands that don’t distill their own spirit and on the surface, I get it. But we have to ask ourselves what is most important, and that’s how good the spirit in the bottle is. Thankfully, Bulleit has been upfront about that fact that their bourbon was distilled at Four Roses (which isn’t a bad thing at all)! Sure, I’d love it if every company distilled their own spirit, but if that does not affect the spirit that is in the bottle, it’s not as big a deal as some would make it out to be. The good thing is that it seems that Bulleit is taking the steps to distill their own whiskey in the near future.
When you compare the nose on Bulleit 10 to their standard bourbon, the 10 is a more balanced nose. As expected, being aged a few years longer than Bulleit Bourbon, the notes from the barrel, such as vanilla, caramel and oak, are more pronounced. There is also the spice from the high rye content, but it isn’t as pronounced as it was in Bulleit Bourbon. Faint hints of citrus (lemon), dark fruit, and herbal notes round out this complex nose. This is a bourbon that you will notice a big difference if you let it open up for at least five minutes.
After a very enjoyable nose, I was really looking forward to seeing if the taste held up. Not only did it hold up to the nose, it surpassed it! First of all, this bourbon has a nice rich mouth feel. Right off the bat, I was hit with the sweetness from the caramel and vanilla notes. There were also hints of dark fruits, lemon, mint and some of the rye spice notes. Being that I’m doing this tasting during Derby Week, the mint aspect of this bourbon got me thinking of the Kentucky Derby’s infamous cocktail. Then the barrel notes such as cinnamon, vanilla, and oak come in. Finally, the finish lasts with citrus, cinnamon, and caramel. Although this is a complex bourbon with a lot of flavors, none of them overpower the other, which makes this an extremely well-balanced bourbon.
I actually prefer Bulleit 10 neat, but for those aspiring mixologists I made a variation on a cocktail that used the standard Bulleit Bourbon. It is a spirit forward cocktail that lets the bourbon shine while adding a little something extra. This cocktail contains two of my favorite things: bourbon and coffee!
- 1 2/3 oz Bulleit 10
- 1/3 oz Journeyman Distillery Snaggle Tooth Coffee Liqueur
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
- 1 Orange peel
Add ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange peel and enjoy!
If anyone wants to make the traditional Mint Julep Cocktail for Derby week, here is the recipe from Bulleit’s website (substituting Bulleit 10 for Bulleit Bourbon).
- 1 1/3 oz Bulleit 10
- Fresh mint leaves
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
Muddle a few mint leaves, sugar, and a touch of water in a highball glass. Add Bulleit 10, some water and fill the glass with crushed ice and stir. Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy!
Each Bulleit product that I have tried has been really enjoyable. As you can tell from my review of Bulleit Rye, it is one of my favorite rye whiskeys. Both the Bulleit Rye and Bulleit Bourbon are great values, and therein lies the problem with the Bulleit 10 for some people. Because Bulleit makes such an excellent rye whiskey for $10 cheaper than Bulleit 10, some find it hard to justify ponying up the extra money for the Bulleit 10. I think that Bulleit 10 can suffer from Bulleit’s own success. Because I blind tasted Bulleit 10, it made me realize that this is a bourbon that is well worth it’s $40-45 price tag on its own merit. It is a wonderfully complex bourbon that I look forward to enjoying again!
It will be interesting to see how Bulleit 10 (and Bulleit Bourbon) made now will compare to the bourbon that will be coming out of their future distillery. I for one have always been a fan of Bulleit and their latest product, Bulleit 10, has only bolstered my opinion of them.