...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Bulleit Rye and an unknown bourbon

Bottler: Bulleit
Distiller: Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (LDI)
Ownership: Diageo
Age: 5 to 7 years
Maturation: Virgin American Oak
Mash Bill: 95% Rye, 5% malted barley
Region: Indiana, USA
Alcohol by Volume: 45%

Quicker liquor info!

Mash Bill (or grain bill) - the proportion/percentages of grains used to form the mash (with boiling water), which in turn creates the liquid that holds the future whiskey's fermentable sugars.

Bourbon must have a mash bill of at least 51% corn.

American Rye Whiskey must have a mash bill of at least 51% rye.

American Small Batch Whiskey must have a mash bill of at least 80% rye.

As mentioned in my vacation post a few weeks back, Kristen and I went to Birba for our first dinner in Palm Springs.  Birba's a great wide open wall-less roof-less restaurant with great food and a respectable bar.  Kristen started out with a Lambrusco which was an excellent call for a warm summer night.  I saw  a bunch of interesting American whiskies on the shelf...

Tom Bulleit & family make a bourbon that's known for having a high rye mash bill (28%-33%) and when I'd tried it in December, I found it more than palatable.  Bulleit released a rye whiskey in 2011 and it's NINETY-FIVE percent rye.  That is very high.  And my oh my, I like me some rye.

So I went with the Bulleit Rye Whiskey, neat.  How did I feel about it?  This:

As you can see from the two pics on this post, the whiskey's color is lovely, like a rich maple syrup.  The nose is more complex than the flavor, a characteristic similar to many Scotch single malts.  This rye smells of bananas, molasses, cloves, flower blossoms, nutmeg, Christmas spices, and good fresh ripe apples.  The palate is both vegetal and fruity, with caramel sauce, cloves, cinnamon, and Robotussin (but in a good way).  It finishes strong, with cinnamon and more Robotussin.

It won't melt your brain like the Willett Single Barrels (yes, they really do that).  But it's still quite delicious and, considering its price range, a super value.  Trader Joe's is selling the bottle for $19.99, so this will probably be the next rye I own.

Availability - Wide (U.S.)
Pricing - Excellent at $20-$25
Rating - 84

After the meal, Kristen went for another glass of the Lambrusco while I decided to FINALLY try some Buffalo Trace.  It's an affordable bourbon from a major power player in the whiskey industry.

What the waiter brought me was a luscious rye-heavy bourbon.  But it was not Buffalo Trace.  Trace is known to have a low rye mash bill (about five to eight percent).  So, I'm not sure what it was that I drank.  But it was very good.

Here are my notes anyway...

The color was a smidgen lighter than the rye, though it was nighttime and it could have been orange, red, and purple for all I know.  The nose: "spritely rye tempered by milder grains like corn & barley, a little grassier, saltier".  As for the palate, it was BIG on rye, with a rush of sweetness (intense but within reason), and "bright and lively around the edges".  It finished sweet and buttery, very lengthy, with more rye.

After perusing other folks' tasting notes and considering my drink's rye-ness, I've come to the conclusion that I still have yet to try Buffalo Trace.  And it wasn't quite Bulleit Bourbon either.  Whatever I did have that night was nice, though it shall remain shrouded in mystery...


  1. I'll admit that I wasn't terribly impressed with Bulleit Rye the first time I had it, but that was partly due to the fact that it's usually priced up in the high-20s here in Oregon, which means that it has plenty of competition. Down at $20 it's better (might even pick up a bottle to do a full review), but it's hard to ignore the presence of Rittenhouse BiB.

    Maybe you had Old Grand Dad? That has a 30% rye mash bill and the 114-proof version certainly has a lot of heft and a *very* strong rye presence.

  2. Thanks for the tip on Old Grand Dad. I'll have to try that 114-proof (on purpose). A bottle of that here is only $24.99.

    Rittenhouse is really good. I'd love to try that and Bulleit side by side, as I continue my education...

    I'm still amazed by the quality of $20 American whiskey versus $20 Scotch whisky.

  3. Buffalo Trace actually has a second high-rye mashbill. I believe that mashbill is in their Ancient Age, Elmer T Lee, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms brands.

  4. Hey Eric. Thanks for the heads-up about BT's #2 high-rye mashbill on some of those other products. I did some snooping and you're right on. Looks like that mashbill has about 15% rye. Thanks!

  5. Willett will definitely melt the brain...

  6. Excellent name there, pop! Willett is thunderously delicious.

  7. Thank you Michael :-) I'm enjoying your spirit(ual) reports. As a relative novice to the finer points of whiskey, the reviews are a great guide in my journey. I was smitten with a Willett rye in San Diego at Urban Solace, but have yet to find it around town. Luckily Bulleit Rye is easily obtained in all corners I've looked and is enjoyable neat or over ice.

    1. Thank you! I wish you a great whiskey journey and may it take you to great places. I love doing these reports whether or not I love the particular whisk(e)y. But I do love me some Willett.

      Holiday Wine Cellar's (Escondido) site has Willett (probably the 5yr) for $45.99 here:

      If you're ever up in the OC, the good folks at Hi Time Wine Cellars almost always have it on hand. Though I'd call them first just in case so you don't make the trip for naught: