Starting at the beginning there was Augustus Bulleit. A tavern keeper in the 1830’s in Louisville, Kentucky. During that time he dedicated himself to one goal of creating a uniquely flavored bourbon. After experimenting with a number of variations he ended up with a bourbon with the character he had wanted. The uniqueness he found came from the high-rye content in the mashbill. From then on, Augustus continued to produce bourbon until his disappearance in 1860. One day while transporting his bourbon on a flat bottom boat down river from Kentucky to New Orleans, Augustus vanished. What happened to him after 1860 is still largely unknown.
Fast forward over a century and we have Tom Bulleit, who is the great-great grandson of Augustus Bulleit. Tom decides to leave a successful career in the legal profession. He had a dream of reviving the families old bourbon recipe. It was a big risk to take in his life at the time. It’s hard not to think of Jefferson and his “With Great Risk Comes Great Reward” quote. It is said, that when he approached his father about starting in the bourbon business using the families recipe his father told him “that’s between you and your banker”.
So, Tom started the Bulleit brand in 1987. He did not use his families history originally in the backstory of the brand. The original bourbon was centered around Kentucky horse racing. Ancient Age Distillery (Buffalo Trace) contract distilled and bottled the original expressions. The first bottles were released in 1995. The brand was eventually purchased by Seagrams Distillery where the current bottle and “Frontier Whiskey” tagline were crafted to go with the original family story for the recipe. Sadly, Seagrams was later sold and assets divided between two companys, Diageo and Pernod-Ricard. Bulleit was acquired by Diageo who continues to foster the brands success today.
I have been patiently waiting to pick a bottle of this up locally. It has finally made its way down to the FL area. There was a significant markup at the first few stores I saw it at. The first place I saw it just above $50 I had to grab it.
Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon
Distiller: Unknown; Sourced and Bottled by Bulleit Distilling Co. in Louisville, KY.
Mashbill: 68% Corn, 28% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Cask: New charred American Oak
Age: NAS (Blend of 5-8 year old bourbon)
ABV/Proof: Varies (This Batch #3 comes in at 61.7% ; 123.4 Proof)
Price: Varies by Region (Picked up locally for $58.00)
Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon – Batch No. 3 Review
Color: Dark copper
Nose/Aroma: Initial rye spice, vanilla, leather, dark fruit, oak, pepper, mint
Palate/Body: Very bright whiskey on the first sip, lots of cinnamon and spice, pepper, oak, Full body.
Finish: Medium finish with more cinnamon, tobacco and oak, vanilla with a hint of mint.
With Water: I enjoyed this release with just a few drops of water.
Overall: An assertive offering that lives up to the ‘Frontier Whiskey’ name. This is a true barrel proof bruiser. It has very dominant flavors that continue from the nose through to the finish. I would recommend trying the standard bottling first. If you enjoy it move up to the barrel strength. There is a reason Bulleit has continued to dominate the bar cocktail scene. Their expressions have no problem standing out in anything they are mixed with.
I have now had all of the bourbon offerings offered by Bulleit. I enjoy all of them for their uniqueness. I would put the 10 year on top followed by barrel strength and lastly the standard expression. I do love that none of their offerings are below 90 proof. I think staying around 90 to 110 proof can be a real sweet spot for any whiskey. Below 90 and you most always wonder what it would taste like at 90 or 100 proof. Just to have that little extra oomph from the alcohol. I am excited to see if a new expression of their rye will come out. Maybe an older age stated or barrel strength expression sometime in the future. We will see.
Have you had this particular batch or another release? What did you think? Leave a comment below!
Drink well friends! 🥃👍