There’s no doubt that Bulleit Bourbon is one of America’s most popular bourbon brands. So far, it’s built that popularity with just two bourbon expressions: regular, and a 10-year variant. Now word has arrived out of Kentucky of a new barrel strength version, which we were among the first to report on when the bottle label was approved by the TTB back in February.
Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength edition, as the name implies, is not for the faint of bourbon heart, as it clocks in at a hefty 118 to 125 proof. Plans are said to call for upwards of 3,000 cases to be released at first, according to BourbonBlog and the Lexington Herald-Leader, but if you are hoping to score a bottle and you are outside of Kentucky, you may have to wait awhile – word is it will only be available in 750 and 375 ml sizes in the Bluegrass State initially (there’s always the secondary market if you are wanting to be one of the first).
The whiskey, in some regard, has already been outside of Kentucky. It was judged at the recent San Francisco Spirit Competition, where it a scored a gold medal in its category, according to Diageo, the parent company of Bulleit. Going back to what we wrote back in February, here is some more information about this now official release from the labeling:
Out of the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, this whiskey delivers unrivaled boldness and complexity. I’ve reserved select barrels to be bottled at true barrel strength to offer you this unique and distinctive release of my straight bourbon whiskey.
As is often the case, the press arm of Diageo was playing coy at the time around whether Barrel Strength would actually come to market, saying to us in a statement that
We are always listening to our consumers and partners in the trade about what they’d like to see next from the Bulleit brand. This is a project we’re considering as a potential future release. No final decisions have been made, but as soon as we have additional details to share, we’ll be sure you’re among the first to know.
That coyness changed though when I reached out to them yesterday for more information, which they were more then happy to share with us. I am happy to, in turn, share the full details with you:
Over the last year, Bulleit Founder, Tom Bulleit traveled the globe sharing sips of a new, unreleased style of Bulleit Bourbon with some of the world’s top bartenders. As a whiskey built by the support of the bartending community, Tom wanted to know what they would think about an addition based on higher proof instead of new flavors or finishes. The feedback was overwhelming and reinforced the decision to officially launch Bulleit Barrel Strength Frontier Whiskey in his home state of Kentucky.
Distilled in Kentucky from the highest quality ingredients, this new variant is a barrel strength version of Bulleit Bourbon with the same high-rye mash bill – roughly 2/3 corn and 1/3 rye. In April, Bulleit Barrel Strength received a Gold Medal from the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – continuing Bulleit’s history of sharing award-winning whiskeys.
The barrels selected to create Bulleit Barrel Strength were emptied and combined into a single batch without the inclusion of any additional water after the whiskey was removed from the barrels. Bottled at Stitzel-Weller in Louisville, Ky., this new offering allows bartenders and fans of great whiskey the opportunity to taste Bulleit Bourbon straight out of the barrel, uncut and non-chill filtered.
Bulleit Barrel Strength is medium-amber in color, with gentle spiciness and sweet oak aromas. The mid-palate is smooth with tones of maple, oak, and nutmeg. The finish is long, dry and satiny with a light toffee flavor, but with deepened oak notes.
Bulleit Barrel Strength is enclosed in the iconic Bulleit frontier-inspired bottle with a slight variation to its label. The orange label that appears on the Bulleit Bourbon bottle has been replaced with a black, fabric label with an orange accent.
SIZES: 750ml and 375ml
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: Because Bulleit Barrel Strength is being bottled straight from the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, the ABV will vary by batch, but will generally range from 118-125 in proof.
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $49.99 (750ml); $29.99(375ml)
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...