Bulleit (not ‘Bullet’ – it’s named after Augustus Bulleit, a historical figure that Diageo may or may not have embellished, as there is little to no historical information about him, although his descendant Tom Bulleit now oversees the company) is owned by scotch giant Diageo and distilled at the MGP of Indiana distillery, where nearly every other rye on the market today is also distilled, including Templeton Rye, Redemption Rye, Willet Rye (until they start releasing whisky from their new KBD plant), High West (at least they blend it skillfully), George Dickel Rye (also owned by Diageo), Angel’s Envy Rye (at least they finish it in rum barrels), and a host of other small-time brands that have not come clean about their origins. Bulleit uses MGP’s 95% rye (and 5% malted barley, used for its enzymes to jumpstart fermentation) recipe. Bulleit Rye is purportedly aged between 4 and 7 years and is bottled by Diageo at 45% ABV.
Diageo also sells a bourbon under the Bulleit brand, which previously was distilled at the Four Roses distillery but is likely now sourced from elsewhere.
Nose: Pungent! Caraway seed, menthol, eucalyptus, cinnamon (stale), black pepper (fresh), and a hint of cherry.
Palate: Thin body. A little fiery, and rough around the edges in a “frontier” style. Cinnamon red-hots, pine sap, cinnamon toast (without the raisins). Somewhat dry (not particularly sweet). A little bit vegetal or grassy.
Finish: Medium-long. Some sweetness emerges in the form of cinnamon saltwater taffy. The pine/eucalyptus is muted now, and the finish is primarily oaky, with a slight bitterness. A ghost of apple skins completes the finish.
With Water: Several drops of water wake up a nice citrus note (like orange bitters or grapefruit) in the aroma, without compromising the integrity of the flavor. I recommend a few drops of water. Also, this bodes well for Bulleit’s ability to stand up to ice or mixers.
Overall: A very respectable rye. I like finding those piney/eucalyptus notes in younger ryes, and Bulleit has those in addition to some of the spicy/oaky flavors present in older ryes. I still prefer Rittenhouse 100 for its elegance and polish, but for a rough-and-ready robust rye that will shine through in mixed drinks but can also stand up to a glass of ice (or a glass of nothing else) it’s hard to beat Bulleit. It may be distilled by MGP, but Bulleit is doing something right, because this is quite good for the ~$25 price tag.