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Cigar Spirits: Bulleit Rye Whiskey

5 Jan 2012

Bulleit has been making bourbon since 1999, but its rye is a new and welcome development. Introduced last March, Bulleit Rye is a new twist on that classic American spirit, rye whiskey.

Bulleit is most notable for it’s high rye content. In order to be a rye, a whiskey must use at least 51% rye mash, supplemented by corn, barley, and wheat. Bulleit surpasses that minimum by leaps and bounds with 95% (the highest of any production rye), with just 5% barley.

The result is a whiskey full of character that is quintessentially rye. It has a deep copper color with a nose of fruit, toffee, and oak.

On the palate, the Bulleit Rye Whiskey really begins to shine. It has the spice I’ve come to expect from rye, but not the overwhelming amount that you’d think a spirit made with 95% rye would. Instead, it’s a remarkably balanced, somewhat dry combination of crisp apple, pepper, wood, rock sugar, wood, and toffee. The finish has sweetness, nuts, and woody pepper.

All in all, there’s everything to like about the Bulleit Rye, including the price, which is a most reasonable $25. For that price, the balanced, complex rye is a tremendous value.

The complex spice makes for an excellent accompaniment to a cigar. Spicy Honduran smokes (like the CAO OSA or Humo Jaguar) and earthy Nicaraguans (like the Tatuaje Brown Label or Padrón 1964) go equally well. Spicier Dominican smokes like the Fuente Opus X and La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero also make for a good pairing.

No matter your choice of cigar, whiskey fans—whether bourbon aficionados, Scotch connoisseurs, or rye enthusiasts—should give the Bulleit Rye a try. It’s the rare combination of cheap, tasty, and unique, which has quickly made it a staple in my collection.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

8 Responses to “Cigar Spirits: Bulleit Rye Whiskey”

  1. CarlosBoozer Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I've been enjoying this rye as well, though I prefer to pair it with a creamier smoke (Connecticut-wrapped, usually) to offset some of the spice of the spirit.

  2. Bill Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    This whiskey ranks as my favorite discovery of 2011. It really is excellent. A lot of stores only carry the bourbon which is also very good.

  3. Ed M. Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Good review – I've had some rough times with the Bulleit bourbon over the years. I still have about a glass left in a bottle I bought about 10 years ago. I'm scared of it. Maybe the OSA and rye is the key.

    I'll have to pick you up a bottle of Reservoir Bourbon, distilled here in Richmond, for our next trip up to DC. At about $45 a pint, it's a steep price to pay, but the novelty of it is worth trying.

  4. Eric Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    This a fantastic spirit that pairs well with cigars. One of my favorites, especially for the price.

  5. Jeff Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I could be wrong, but I think Old Potrero is produced with 100% rye, making your statement incorrect:

    Bulleit surpasses that minimum by leaps and bounds with 95% (the highest of any production rye), with just 5% barley.

    • Thomas Huxley Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      I'm sorry, I don't see that I made a statement regarding Templeton's rye content, although it's composed of "more than 90% rye" (see maker's website). I just said it was outstanding and incredible. And it is. Get some.

  6. Thomas Huxley Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    You want an outstanding rye whiskey? Then get a bottle (if you can find it) of Templeton Rye, made in Templeton, Iowa, in very small batches. The recipe goes back to Prohibition, and was (allegedly) Al Capone's booze of choice. Absolutely incredible.

    • Greg Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      Interesting enough, it appears that most rye whiskies and some bourbons (including Templeton, Bulleit, Redemption, and some High West Rendezvous) all originate from a mega-distillery in Lawrenceburg Indiana: LDI. I just finished reading the Winter 2011 issue of Whisky Advocate and it includes an enlightening article about "contract production"–making spirits for other companies that essentially own the product from grain to bottle. It appears that "artisinal/small batch" sells better than "made by someone else for us in a gigantic distillery." That being said, LDI can churn out some super tasty distillate.

      On the flip, Templeton is quite impressive although I'd really like to get my hands on a bottle of old Sazerac Rye.

      Incidentally, LDI also churns out Seagram's Seven and a slew of other potent potables.