Bulleit Rye Whiskey
After being pleasantly surprised the past few blind tastings, this whiskey was unsurprisingly pleasant. When I found out that this blind tasting was Bulleit Rye Whiskey, I realized why so many people have enjoyed it. Because Bulleit’s standard bourbon has a higher percentage of rye (28%) in the mash bill then most bourbons on the market, it is no surprise that they would know how to make a good rye whiskey. Even their rye whiskey is relatively high on the rye count at 95%. Just as bourbon has to have at least 51% corn to be called bourbon, rye whiskey must have 51% rye to be called a rye whiskey. So apparently Bulleit likes their rye. I for one support their endeavor!
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 has announced that they have plans to distill at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, as of right now, they are a non-distilling company. They have just opened the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller, which hosts tastings and where you can learn about the brand. Right now though, Bulleit Rye is distilled at MGP in Indiana. Interestingly, their bourbon is distilled elsewhere at the Four Roses Distillery.
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. Sure, I’d love it if every company distilled their own spirit, but if that doesn’t 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, it seems that Bulleit is taking the steps to distill their own whiskey in the near future.
Although there are definite rye notes in the nose, they aren’t as prominent as I would expect from a whiskey with 95% rye content. There is much more going on in the nose, such as orange, cherry, honey. I also picked up an interesting note of what reminds me of gin botanicals. That one surprised me! Although there are numerous aromas going on, this whiskey still lets you know that it’s a rye. Overall, it was a pleasant nose, although not as potent as I expected from a big rye whiskey (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
Because Bulleit Rye has a mash bill of 95% rye, I would have expected a rye bomb to go off on my palate when I first tasted this. For this reason, I was surprised when I learned that this blind tasting was Bulleit Rye. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely some prevalent rye spice, but not as much as I would have expected. Even though the rye spice isn’t as forward as expected from a rye whiskey with 95% rye content, there are other flavors that round out the whiskey nicely. This is what I suspect is mellowing out the rye spice. This whiskey is in contrast with Bulleit Bourbon’s more aggressive flavor profile.
Even though the nose of this whiskey was a tad reserved, the palate is not shy at all. There is a lot going on here. Up front I am hit with some sweetness such as honey that fades into an almost candied orange. There is also some cherry and then the spice rolls in. Bulleit Rye is a very well balanced whiskey! It’s similar to a chef balancing out a dish. They know the value in not having something such as heat/spice overpower the other flavors in a dish. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, like bacon. Just keep piling it on any food you give me and we’ll be all good. But I digress, back to the whiskey!
The finish is nice and long with a lingering spice and fruit (orange and cherry) with a little oak. This finish lasts a very, very long time! It just keeps going. I was really impressed with how all the flavors work together without any one flavor taking over.
Bulleit Rye Sazerac Cocktail:
For me, you really can’t go wrong with a good sazerac! Granted, the original recipe for sazerac used cognac as the primary spirit, but nowadays rye whiskey is commonly used in place of cognac. It’s one of my go-to cocktails.
- 1 1/2 oz. Bulleit Rye
- ¼ oz. absinthe
- 1 cube of sugar
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
First muddle the sugar cube and bitters in a mixing glass. Then add the Bulleit Rye Whiskey and stir with ice. Finally strain into an old fashioned glass that has been chilled and rinsed with absinthe. Be careful with the absinthe though because it will overpower the cocktail if you’re not cautious. I made that mistake once before thinking that because I love the taste of absinthe, the more the better. I learned that when using absinthe in cocktails, a little goes a long way.
When I am in the mood for a rye whiskey, I’m usually looking for one with some bite. Bulleit Rye showed me that a rye whiskey can be more balanced while still having that rye spice that I love. As far as the price, Bulleit Rye is a good value at around $28. This has been a really enjoyable whiskey for me to taste and it opened up my mind to the potential of rye whiskeys’ ability to go beyond their inherent spiciness. Overall an excellent rye whiskey!