...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey (2015)

Bulleit is owned by Diageo, though sources its rye from MDP and bourbon from Four Roses. Diageo admits outright that its rye is from the Midwest Grain Products WonderFactory™. The bourbon source though remains a bit cloudy. It's either a mix of Four Roses recipes or there's another distillery's stuff in there. At some point in a few years, someone else's juice will indeed be in the mix now that the Four Roses contract has finished. For better informed speculation about all of this stuff, I recommend this post by Chuck Cowdery and its comment section.  Bulleit's original source, in the '90s, was Ancient Age. Their future source (they hope) will be their own distillery in Shelby, KY—which actually had its ribbon cut two weeks ago.

Yes, this is a Diageo product. And, yes, the whole "Frontier Whiskey" branding thing is dubious. But I've always found it to be a reliable whiskey. It was always $19.99 at Trader Joe's and its generous rye content made it a good ingredient for cocktails. Plus, I think every casual bourbon drinker I know has told me he or she loves the stuff. Thus my opinion on this bourbon matters even less than usual, but that never stopped me before.

Brand: Bulleit
Distillered at: Four Roses Distillery (probably)
Owner: Diageo
Type: straight bourbon whiskey
Age: allegedly 6 years, though take that with a byte of salt
Mashbill: 68% corn, 28% rye, 4% malted barley
Bottling Year: 2015
Alcohol by Volume: 45%
(Sample from my father-in-law's bottle)

The nose starts off with some serious rye notes, almost like Alberta Distillers' 100% stuff. But then comes some charred corn, musty oak and a small farmy note. Some earthy molasses, clay and hazelnuts. After 20+ minutes, there's some honey butter and a hint of vanilla. There's a very even delivery to the palate. It's not too sweet, with the corn syrup note staying in the background and the berry notes registering more like essence than sugar. The good rye buzz shows up here. A hint of wood smoke. Some good heat. It finishes with (honey) sweetness and (rye & wood) spice. A hint of fried plantains. A moderate warmth. Simple but problem-free.

Totally reliable stuff. Can't say I love it, but it carries the ball without fumbling. That's a terrible metaphor. Because its price is still very reasonable, I recommend this bourbon most for cocktails. It makes a decent Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Highball. I am curious to see what happens to its quality once there's no Four Roses bourbon in the bottle. I'll review it again then...

Availability - Everywhere
Pricing - $20-$35
Rating - 83 (though a couple points better when in cocktails)