Bulleit Bourbon is a multi award winning American whiskey. It was first created by Augustus Bulleit in the 1830s. Bulleit had moved to America from France in the early 1800s and lived in New Orleans, until moving to the state of Kentucky in 1830. Kentucky is the heart of America's whiskey industry and Bulleit, who had produced brandy in France, fell in love with bourbon and decided to make his own. He experimented with different recipes before settling on one that contained malted barley and a particularly high percentage of rye. Bulleit produced his bourbon in small batches and its popularity grew rapidly. In 1860, Augustus Bulleit mysteriously disappeared and with no-one to take over, the distilling was stopped shortly afterwards.
The Bulleit name was re-introduced to the American whiskey industry by Augustus' great great grandson in 1987. His name is Tom Bulleit and after finding some of Augustus' old documents and bourbon recipes, he decided to recreate the whiskey. He has tried to stay as close to his great great grandfather's recipe as possible, including the high level of rye (this is around 30% of the grain mix, which is more than most bourbons). Bulleit Bourbon hit the American market in 1999 and one year later it was introduced in to the Australian, European and UK markets. The brand is now owned by drinks giant Diageo and is made under license at the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The whiskey is made in small batches, is aged for at least six years in charred oak casks and is one of the fastest growing bourbon brands in the USA and the world.
The UK version of Bulleit Bourbon is bottled at 40% ABV (it is 45% in the USA) and is golden amber in colour. The nose is fragrant with an aromatic combination of vanilla, toasted nuts (think of almonds), candied orange peel, cereal grains and a distinct woodiness (imagine wood shavings). On the palate, this is dry and fresh with a prominent spiciness coming from the high rye grain content (think of cinnamon and nutmeg). There is again plenty of vanilla and toasted nuts and these are joined by sweeter honey, caramel syrup and coconut notes. Another slightly odd characteristic also comes through and this is hard to place. The closest we got was that it was reminiscent of some sort of tropical fruit. The finish begins slightly sweet before turning dry and spicy with an almost smoky edge (hard to pinpoint again but imagine cigar tobacco?).
Bulleit is a lovely, rich and spicy whiskey that is slightly different from other bourbons that we have tried in that it has a drier feel. It is popular in bars and with cocktail mixologists and is available from specialist whisky retailers and some larger supermarkets. In the UK, it is also available in the Wetherspoon's chain of pubs for around £2 a go (which is where we sampled it), so this offers a good chance to try before you buy a full bottle (which should cost around £20).