To celebrate the release of our American whiskey guides, I’ll be exploring Bulleit Rye, a very versatile, spice-heavy Straight Rye Whiskey. In this review, you will discover Bulleit Rye as I cover the following topics:
- Review Formula
- Spirit Overview
- Robe & Appearance
- Nose & Aromas
- Palate & Mouthfeel
- How To Drink Bulleit Rye
- Cocktail Suggestions
- Recommended Pairings
- Overall Experience & Value For Money
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Bulleit Rye Overview
- Distillery: MGP Distillery, Indiana
- Expression: Bulleit Rye
- Variety: Straight Rye Whiskey
- Region: Lawrenceburg, Indiana
- Age: NAS
- Casking: American White Oak
- Cask Strength: 45% ABV
- Parent: Diageo
The history of Bulleit dates back to the early 19th Century when a gentleman and tavern-keeper called Augustus Bulleit supposedly started distilling his own whiskey. Many moons later, Tom Bulleit, a former attorney, revisited the original formula and started the Bulleit brand in the 1990s. Today, it’s one of the most popular rye whiskeys internationally.
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Bulleit Rye’s Robe
- Hue: Orange gold
- Clarity: Crisp
- Viscosity: Mild
First, let’s look at the color. I notice a shimmering gold with sprinkles of an orange hue. The viscosity is not particularly thick. The legs run down the side of the glass rather swiftly. The guidelines and regulations for the production of a Straight Rye Whiskey in the United States are rather strict, so there are no additives allowed, which would of course also prohibit the use of coloring.
Bulleit Rye’s Nose
- Notes: Pumpernickel, vanilla, charred oak
- Nosefeel: Mentholated
A crisp, characterful and mostly popcorn-like aroma marks the beginning of the gentle scents, emanating from the glass. Next, there’s quite a noseful of vanilla, plenty of typical charred white oak, dominating the olfactory expression.
Then, the rye character comes shining through, with a vast mix of breaded characteristics: some dark, roasted aromatics, almost like juicy, malted pumpernickel bread. The whiskey presents itself most spicy, earthy, and slightly leathery towards the back of the nose.
There’s also a sprinkle of fresh citrus, like pink grapefruit zest, sprayed over fresh lemon juice. Furthermore white chocolate, white pepper and black pepper add another layer. After a few minutes, more mineral, funky tones can be noticed, encompassed by overripe bananas and some other tropical fruits, that mostly remind me of overripe mango and papaya.
To polish things off, once again, the vanilla cream with its thick, heavy character comes to the front, wavering between creme brulée, tonka bean, and a little bit of charred caramel.
Bulleit Rye’s Palate & Mouthfeel
- Primary Taste: Sweet
- Mouthfeel: Cooling
- Opening: Juicy rye, marmalade, ginger
- Heart: Vanilla, caramel, pumpernickel
- Finish: Medium [red berry, leather, banana]
The taste experience is very much aligned with the nasal expression. So again, in the beginning, there’s vanilla cream, heavy cream, next to some charred and roasted bread. Wooden spice, primarily in the form of white oak, gently put into second gear by an emerging spiciness, so typical for rye bread and rye whisky.
The pumpernickel is here yet again, with a faint hint of orange marmalade, the bitter bits and pieces of the rind included. This time I detect ginger spice, whilst the pepper is mostly tamed down and only gives a short comback towards the very end.
Interestingly enough, the whiskey also adds a fruit component of red berries and myrtle. before the banana notes, which I already experienced on the nose, dominate the finish.
Speaking of: the finish is rather clean, crisp, and not very long. I would say it’s a medium length with a certain depth and weight. Thus, the body feels mellow and velvety, without offering ample complexity or richness. This sip of Bulleit rye is straight and very much to the point.
How To Drink Bulleit Rye
All in all, the whiskey delivers on what it promises to be, which makes Bulleit a versatile and very mixable spicy rye whiskey, suitable for all your favorite classic cocktails, like an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sazerac, or even a Whiskey Sour.
How would you most likely drink this golden liquor? Again, either in one of your beloved cocktails or you could have it neat, over a large block of ice as well. My personal favorite is a refreshing, zesty longdrink with crisp ginger ale and a long stripe of orange zest.
Bulleit Rye Cocktail Suggestions
We can suggest the following cocktails with Bulleit Rye:
- Old Fashioned
The sky is the limit. Bulleit Rye fits many different roles and themes, making it an ideal mixing whiskey for your private liquor cabinet and daily spirits rotation.
Best Pairings With Bulleit Rye
Since the pumpernickel note so proudly sits on the nose and tongue when tasting, it has to be amongst the suggested pairings. Indeed, this is such a distinct and characterful aroma of this rye whiskey, it makes for a fantastic pairing. Maybe add a schmear of butter, or take that very same combination and put a dozen oysters right next to it (this is often served as so-called “oyster-bread”). As a matter of fact, pour some of the Bulleit rye on top of your oysters as well, before you start indulging.
Other than that, a crispy chocolate bar filled with caramelized nuts would go fantastically well with the rye.
For the cigar aficionados, a characterful smoke, offering roasted nuts, spice and complexity would sit proudly alongside this whiskey. I’d definitely recommend a rich cigar, like Roma Craft’s Neanderthal – something that can stand up to the spice, earthiness and charred woody notes.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
This is most definitely a great everyday rye whiskey, not overly expensive, not overly complex, but to the point and straight, with plenty of guts and just enough character to stand up to all the mixers and other ingredients you want to throw on top of it.
The presentation overall is very neat and minimalistic, which is true for the entire Bulleit portfolio. The bottle resembles an old flask, which most people back in the days would carry in their pockets. The label has a spring-like, fresh green look. From a multisensory experience standpoint, the color suits the overall aromatic profile quite well, delivering some of the fresh, breaded spiciness.
What stands out for me, is that the bottle offers amazing design and work ergonomics for bartenders and hobby mixologist. When you free pour, the Bulleit rye perfectly rests in your hand.
An affordable every-day whiskey that should be part of your daily spirits rotation: great for sipping, mixing cocktails, and add some spice to your preferred longsdrink with a crisp rye whiskey.
"Spice up your life - the rye way!"
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