Bulleit Pulls the Trigger on New Rye

Since its inception in 1999, Bulleit Bourbon has been one of the most rye-rich brands on the market. With its introduction of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, it takes the spice quotient almost to the max with a mashbill of 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley.

Tom Bulleit, founder of the brand owned by Diageo, says the new whiskey is a culmination of a seven-year dream to create a straight rye whiskey and also satisfies requests from mixologists and enthusiasts for such a product.

Straight rye whiskey is the product of a grain recipe that by law must include at least 51 percent rye. Bourbon whiskey is legally stipulated to include at least 51 percent corn. The remaining grains in rye whiskey are typically corn and barley. Most Bourbons are filled out with rye and barley. The original Bulleit Bourbon was made with the unusually high rye content of 28 percent. Bulleit has said that formula was based on a recipe passed down to him by his great-great-grandfather Augustus Bulleit from the 19th century.

With a 95 percent rye recipe, the new product has a mashbill that is among the leaders in the content of that grain. Barley contains enzymes that convert grains to sugars before the fermentation process converts them to alcohol. While some rye whiskies use 100 percent rye, they must introduce non-grain enzymes in the malting process in order to further fermentation.

The company says that it sources ryes from Germany, Sweden, Canada and the United States through its grain division.

Bulleit also says that it uses a patented strain for fermentation. Bulleit Bourbon is made at the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, Four Roses Distillery, a facility that is known for the many yeast strains it uses in making Bourbon releases.

Bulleit Rye is aged in new, white-oak barrels that are charred to the maximum #4 level before being filled. The whiskey is bottled at 90 proof (45 percent alcohol by volume), the same at Bulleit Bourbon. The suggested retail price is $27.99.


Bulleit Rye Whiskey (90 proof, 45 percent alcohol by volume), $27.99

APPEARANCE: Copper color with slight green patina. Fat, slow legs.

NOSE: Slightly aggressive bouquet with some toast. A bit of spice.

PALATE: Starts sweet and fruity, then turns chewy, developing earthy and walnut notes. Despite having the licorice of lychee nuts, it is surprisingly not overly spicy, considering its overwhelming rye content.

FINISH: Walnuts continue on the aftertaste, joined by more fruit and then the spice explosion happens in earnest.