Bulleit Rye

The Liquor Fairy recently delivered me a nifty bottle to tell you about. Bulleit Rye is the new companion to Bulleit Bourbon, which I reviewed here. it is a 95% rye whiskey, coming in at 95 proof as well. For those in Ohio, Bulleit Rye is on the state list and retails here for about $22. (More in some markets)

To recap my opinion of Bulleit’s bourbon, I believe that dollar for dollar it is the best all around bourbon I’ve tried. It’s delicious, smooth, and versatile.  So I was understandably excited to try the rye.

At 95% rye in the mash, Bulleit has a lot of rye. 51% is the mandated minimum. It is very smooth. I’d never think of just having most ryes straight, but Bulleit Rye is rather nice with a single ice cube or a splash of cold water, like I enjoy my scotch. The singular spiciness in most ryes that immediately distinguishes them from bourbons is present but mellower here. This allows some of the more savory undertones in the mix to make themselves more readily experienced.

But most of my use of rye is in Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. Here the mellowness of the spice ends up modifying both drinks considerably from what I usually expect from a rye version of same. When you first use it to mix cocktails, I’d start with small ones until you figure what works for you. I back off both the sugar in the Old Fashioned and the vermouth in the Manhattan slightly to compensate.

This is really fine whiskey, but it took me a while to grasp why I am fighting the urge to be grumpy about it. The reason is that Bulleit’s bourbon is so damn good and so versatile, I wanted the rye to be a similar Swiss Army knife. and it’s not. It’s delicious, and fun, but it is just different in character from the average premium rye. That said, if you are a rye drinker, you really ought to try this bottle. And if you are a bourbon drinker who never had much use for rye, Bulleit Rye’s slightly more sweet and savory profile could give you a reason to give the classification another look.

The Liquor Fairy Was Here!
The following product, Bulleit Rye, was recently provided to me as promotional consideration to encourage me to discuss it.
For a complete disclosure of my policies regarding promotional items and all other financial interests, please click this link, or follow the Liquor Fairy link in the header of this page.
(Additionally, I own a chunk of stock in Diageo, the parent company)

About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

11 Comments

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  • Jordan,
    I’d say a good analogy between the two would be Bulleit is to Rittenhouse 100 as Aviation is to something like Bombay Sapphire.
    You’d use them the same way (for the most part), but they don’t give the same results. If what you really want is Rittenhouse, then Bulleit won’t give it to you. But if you want a twist on the base, or a different angle in your evening, I’d definitely give this a whirl.

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  • Yeah. And at that price-point, it’s not exactly a huge investment risk. Redemption Rye is another one that relatively cheap one that I’d like to try. However, Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye was something of a disappointment. Not bad, but not worth the extra cash over Rittenhouse.

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  • Bulleit’s bourbon is a favorite in our house, too, so I’ve been looking forward to trying their rye. It is a pleasant coincidence that Bulleit Rye just showed up in my local store this week. The last two evenings have given me a chance to do up Manhattans and Sazeracs, and I agree with all you’ve said, particularly that the Bulleit is enjoyable, mixable, and a little sweet. I didn’t particularly notice the sweetness in my Manhattan, but it really stood out in tonight’s Sazerac. I had to add a little extra rye to balance it out (poor me.)

    I second your response to Jordan, the Rittenhouse is a little more rounded and oaky than the Bulleit—good attributes in my opinion. But since Rittenhouse 100 is rarely available in my market, it’s sort of a moot point. Bulleit may well become our house rye, or at least share that billing with Wild Turkey 101, in the sense that it seems to be very mixable, and seems to provide a lot of flavor the the money.

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  • I knew what you meant by “It’s delicious, and fun,” but don’t really know what you meant by “but it is just in character from the average premium rye.” One could interpet this as meaning that it is not much different from other premium rye, but you then suggest otherwise. So, if you could compare it to my gold standard, Wild Turkey 101, I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks.

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  • Manny,

    Thanks for pointing out the missing word in my post! It should (and now does) read, “it is just *different* in character”.

    I haven’t had any Kickin’ Chicken in a long time, so a direct comparison is hard for me, but the Bulleit is sweeter and softer than most ryes, while retaining full rye flavor.

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  • Manny– By amusing coincidence, there are exactly three bottles of rye in my pantry, and they are Rittenhouse 100, Wild Turkey 101, and Bulleit 95. Your comment motivated me to pour them in a row. They all are clearly rye whiskies, with the dominant and dry “spicy” rye characteristic. None any particular sweetness tasted straight (this makes me want to go back and double check the Sazerac test I mentioned previously.)

    But with the Bulleit, that “rye-ness” is just about all there is. There seems to be little aftertaste; the flavors that are present seem relatively thin and one dimensional, and then they’re gone. As a matter of speculation, I wonder if the Bulleit would be improved by a little bit longer time in the barrel to round it out a little?

    As for Rittenhouse and Wild Turkey, I found them both to have a more complex flavor, a roundness that I suspect comes from the additional corn in the mash. I was also surprised to note some sort of fruit notes in the mid-taste of the Wild Turkey 101, and then a little bit longer aftertaste for both. I don’t know if I was tasting a little sweetness in both, or just a little less of the medicinal dryness compared to Bulleit. In short, the flavors of the Rittenhouse and the Wild Turkey were so similar to my palate that I don’t think I’d be able to tell them apart in a blind tasting.

    My takeaway from this experiment is that Wild Turkey will likely remain my house rye, but I would certainly accept any of these whiskies without reservation.

    …now, back to that Sazerac test…

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  • I’ll drink Wild Turkey rye with a bit of ice, but to my surprise, this Bulleit is complicated enough to sip neat. The initial sweetness goes away pretty quickly for a 2nd “low” taste I can’t quite figure out, right now. I might expect these kinda’ accomplished transitions for an older whisky, not for a $20 bottle of rye. Yikes, this is a fun whisky!!!!!

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