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Bourbon session #1 : Bulleit Bourbon

11 April 2010 4,219 views Written by: Gal Granov

NEW_BULIT_750ML_lo_res

Two facts for you:

1. I am not much of a Bourbon drinker. I’ve Tried a few Bourbons and American whiskies in my life, but I can’t say I was overwhelmed (One can claim I didn’t sample the best of Bourbons, that’s true, But I’ve tried a few before). They always seem to me less complex, sweeter.

2. Bourbon is not big in israel: We get a few of them at our local shops (which are always kind of expensive due to tax), The Israeli duty free does feature a few others, but in comparison to the USA, we have only a fraction of a fraction of the available range.

This explains why I seldom sip bourbon at the end of the day. I’ve been doing some sample swapping with my good friend Yossi (of the Jewish single malt blog), and got those beauties to sample.

The weather in Israel is pretty warm now (nothing like summer here which is looming nearby), and ideal for those sweeter Americans. Now let’s get started with my first reviewed Bourbon: The Bulleit.

Just a few words about the bulleit before we get on with the notes:

The Bulleit Bourbon boasts the highest Rye content found in bourbons today (about 30%), which is quite interesting. It is not a Rye whiskey (since rye whiskies can be named that way only if they contain 51% or more rye) , but a Bourbon. as it happens if a bourbon has more than 51% of corn , it’s eligible to be called “Bourbon”…

The Bulleit Bourbon was first distilled by Augustus Bulleit who came to the USA from France and settled down in New Orleans. In the 1820’s Augustus made his way to Louisville, Kentucky where he owned a tavern and started distilling a new kind of Bourbon for his clients. The Original Bulleit bourbon contained about 2/3 rye and 1/3 of Corn. Augustus Died in 1860 but passed on his ‘secret’ formula for the whisky making to his son, who didn’t continue his business. The Bulleit whisky heritage was revived by his grandson Tom Bulleit, who used this recipe and in 1987 when he founded the new Bulleit Bourbon. Currently the Bulleit mash contains some 28% rye (yeah! almost 30% rye!) , 68% corn and 4% of malted barley. Just as many distilleries nowadays, Bulleit Bourbon is owned by Diageo and is made in Lawrenceburg, KY.

(you can find a very detailed post by Jeff from the Scotch Hobbyist’s blog , explaining all about the history of bulleit over here)

Tasting notes:

Bulleit Bourbon, 45% ABV

Color: Mahogany red

Nose: sweet stuff.  vanilla.  Oaky notes, some cinnamon as well. spice (can’t put my finger on which exactly but it’s definitely there) – mostly attributed to the usage of rye , i would say.  The rye is there , it’s not shouting but it can not be overlooked. some Fennel aromas are also detectable.

Palate: Sweet woody candy combined with spice best describes it. Spicy tingles on the tongue, and a rather drying feeling on the aftertaste.

Finish: Drying  and woody. Medium length. Nice.

Summing it up:

This is a nice Bourbon. I did like the extra complexity and tastes that come from the usage of Rye in quite a heavy dose (27%, remember?). It’s not over spicy, and the sweet-spice-vanilla-wood combination is rather appealing. I’m not a huge bourbon fan now, but i do think this one is somehow nicer than some of the Bourbons i did sample recently.

Price wise : At $30 or £20 it’s fairly priced, but not very cheap. In some US shops you can get it for as low as 20$ which is a steal. At that price i’d surely get a bottle for those hot summer days. But since i do get most of my drams from UK merchants, the £20 + shipping is a not that cheap…

Bulleit (or Diageo to be more exact) have built a nice site for their product, but for some reason, the site lacks many facts about the bourbon, missing are also tasting notes. What you can find there are nice cocktails that can be made with the spirit, although i do prefer my Whiskies and Bourbons straight. I do find it a bit sad that they mainly think of their product as worthy of cocktails only, and do not include a section for those interested in the spirit as a stand alone dram.

Cheers, cowboys!

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  • http://www.jewishsinglemaltwhiskysociety.com/ Joshua (Yossi)

    I’m finding that the bourbons I really like have more rye content in them. I’m also finding that, when it comes to American whiskies, I much prefer rye whiskies over bourbons. It’s got to be a rye thing. Nice review Gal! Looking forward to your notes on the High West Rendezvous Rye.

    • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

      I think i agree. Rye does have a very distinct character that i think helps improve the “bourbon” flavors. i did get a comment from an Israeli-American guy (Meny) who live in NJ, and he says that barley american whiskies are even better than rye , more refined. he recommended the Papy van winkel 15, and other Papy’s. have u had any of those?

      • http://www.jewishsinglemaltwhiskysociety.com/ Joshua (Yossi)

        I’ve had the Pappy 20yr but can’t afford to own a bottle. Damn good shite!!

        • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

          Pappy. alsywas reminds me of Seinfeld

          • Anonymous

            Pappy was a bit sloppy!

  • http://www.jewishsinglemaltwhiskysociety.com/ Joshua (Yossi)

    I'm finding that the bourbons I really like have more rye content in them. I'm also finding that, when it comes to American whiskies, I much prefer rye whiskies over bourbons. It's got to be a rye thing. Nice review Gal! Looking forward to your notes on the High West Rendezvous Rye.

  • http://thecasks.wordpress.com/ Peter

    Great review. Here in San Francisco, Bulleit’s definitely a steal for around $20. We always seem to have a bottle of this at home. A similar bourbon price-wise for comparison’s sake would be Buffalo Trace, there’s less rye in there. Definitely try the Van Winkle’s if you can, they’re excellent but very different than Bulleit because they use wheat instead of rye in the mash…smoooooth.

    • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

      thanks Peter!
      i will definetly try those out…
      nice blog you have, now following it ;)

  • whiskyisrael

    I think i agree. Rye does have a very distinct character that i think helps improve the “bourbon” flavors. i did get a comment from an Israeli-American guy (Meny) who live in NJ, and he says that barley american whiskies are even better than rye , more refined. he recommended the Papy van winkel 15, and other Papy's. have u had any of those?

  • http://thecasks.wordpress.com/ Peter

    Great review. Here in San Francisco, Bulleit's definitely a steal for around $20. We always seem to have a bottle of this at home. A similar bourbon price-wise for comparison's sake would be Buffalo Trace, there's less rye in there. Definitely try the Van Winkle's if you can, they're excellent but very different than Bulleit because they use wheat instead of rye in the mash…smoooooth.

  • whiskyisrael

    thanks Peter!
    i will definetly try those out…
    nice blog you have, now following it ;)

  • http://www.jewishsinglemaltwhiskysociety.com/ Joshua (Yossi)

    I've had the Pappy 20yr but can't afford to own a bottle. Damn good shite!!

  • http://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.com/ Jason Debly

    Good bourbon will grow on you. Give it time. If you like Bulleit, you should try some better ones like Jim Beam Black, then move up to Knob Creek. Just a thought.

    • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

      I never liked the Beam, but i should check Knob Creek. i have a long list of American spirits i need to try…
      but it’s kinda hard to come by them here.

  • http://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.com/ Jason Debly

    I also agree with Peter that Buffalo Trace is a bourbon worth seeking out. You can’t help but like that one.

    • Anonymous

      will do!

  • http://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.com/ Jason Debly

    Good bourbon will grow on you. Give it time. If you like Bulleit, you should try some better ones like Jim Beam Black, then move up to Knob Creek. Just a thought.

  • http://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.com/ Jason Debly

    I also agree with Peter that Buffalo Trace is a bourbon worth seeking out. You can't help but like that one.

  • whiskyisrael

    I never liked the Beam, but i should check Knob Creek. i have a long list of American spirits i need to try…
    but it's kinda hard to come by them here.

  • whiskyisrael

    Pappy. alsywas reminds me of Seinfeld

    • Anonymous

      Pappy was a bit sloppy!

  • http://twitter.com/WhiskyOClock JT

    I have to admit I was happy to see this bottle gone from my cabinet. I am starting to believe I’m not much of a bourbon fan. The only luck I have had so far is with Knob Creek. I am interested in trying out some of the rye whiskeys though.

    • Anonymous

      Hey JT
      i am not much of a Bouron guy myself, i’d take a nice scotch anytime over it, but sometimes u need to try new things :)
      i might like it , what do u know ;)
      i have some more B’s and Ryes up my sleeve.
      watch this space….
      Slainte!

  • http://twitter.com/WhiskyOClock JT

    I have to admit I was happy to see this bottle gone from my cabinet. I am starting to believe I'm not much of a bourbon fan. The only luck I have had so far is with Knob Creek. I am interested in trying out some of the rye whiskeys though.

  • granov

    Hey JT
    i am not much of a Bouron guy myself, i'd take a nice scotch anytime over it, but sometimes u need to try new things :)
    i might like it , what do u know ;)
    i have some more B's and Ryes up my sleeve.
    watch this space….
    Slainte!

  • granov

    will do!

  • Mark

    Nice blog. Yeah, Bulleit Bourbon is really popular here in the States. Rye-style bourbons have been the trend these last few years. To update, you can now get a bottle of Bulleit for just under $20 in my area (Dallas, TX). In fact, the prices of a lot of bourbons have been going down over the last year or so (economic slowdown maybe?). I remember when Bulleit cost around $32 per bottle!

    However, the reason you don’t like bourbon so much is b/c you’re not drinking the right stuff. If you can, try Pappy Van Winkle 15, or anything by PVW. Also, Black Maple Hill, Noah’s Mill, Willett’s, Rowan’s Creek, Eagle Rare, Bowman Brothers and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace is also a nice entry/standard bourbon to start with. Another one would be Woodford Reserve. That should be enough to convert you!!lol

  • moshe

    Can u get Bulliets here in Israel?

    • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

      dont think so…