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Bulleit Rye Whiskey
About Bulleit Rye
It feels like I see a Bulleit Frontier Whiskey bottle in every bar I visit, so it immediately came to mind when I was looking for a new whiskey to try. And, since I’ve also been looking to gain more experience with rye whiskey, now seemed like a great time to check out Bulleit Rye.
Bulleit is a relatively new American whiskey company that was founded in 1987 by Tom Bulleit. Ownership of the brand has changed hands a few times, but it’s currently owned by International spirit company, Diageo. I was surprised at the lack of information about the brand history or the founder on the official Bulleit website, but it’s probably because of recent allegations from Tom Bulleit’s daughter. He has since been removed as the public face of the company.
Bulleit whiskies are known for their high rye content, and Bulleit Rye uses a mash bill of 95% rye grain and 5% malted barley. Although Bulleit opened a new distillery in Shelbyville, KY in 2017, this bottle is sourced from Indiana and bottled in Bulliet facilities in Illinois.
❖ Spirit: Rye Whiskey
❖ Distillery: Distilled in Lawrenceberg, Indiana and bottled by Bulleit Distilling in Plainfield, Illinois
❖ ABV: 45% (90 Proof)
❖ Low/Moderate price
My Tasting Notes
❖ Color: gold with orange hue
❖ Nose: creamy vanilla, oak, slight spice
❖ Taste: cinnamon, vanilla, intense heat and spice
❖ Finish: long, spice and toffee
3 Dashes of Bitters
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 oz Rye Whiskey
❖ Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and add ice.
❖ Stir until chilled (about 15 seconds) and strain into a chilled martini glass, coupe or Nick and Nora
❖ Garnish with a Luxardo cherry
Rye whiskey is a common spirit in a variety of classic cocktails, but the most famous is probably the Manhattan. There’s some debate about the cocktail’s origin, but a common story is that it was created in the famous bar, Manhattan Club, in New York City in the mid to late 1800’s. I used a recipe from one of my go-to books, Cocktails Made Simple by Brian Weber and Amin Benny, but I’ve seen very similar recipes elsewhere. The differences are usually in the amount or type of bitters.
Bulleit Rye works pretty well in this cocktail and the strong vanilla and spice notes pair nicely with the sweet and dark fruit notes of the sweet vermouth. I don’t taste it in every sip but sometimes I get just a hint of the bitters. It’s a really refreshing cocktail that’s great to drink before a meal, and I was immediately craving something salty.
Bulleit Rye is pretty much exactly as advertised; a well made, high rye whiskey that works well in cocktails. But, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the lack of cohesion between the flavors. There was a dissonance with the opposite extremes of sweet and spice notes and I struggled to find much more depth of flavor. I also thought the heat from the alcohol was a bit too intense for my personal taste.
However, this lack of complexity is pretty useful making cocktails. The vanilla and spice notes stood out in the Manhattan cocktail but still balance well with the other strong flavors. So if you are looking for a mixing spirit, this is a great option.
And, Bulleit Rye is in a decent price range for mixers. I see it regularly in my local store for around $24, so I don’t feel too bad about mostly using it in cocktails. It’s also sold in a 325ml bottle, so you can try it without much of commitment.
As always, drink responsibly.
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