Serious Eats: Drinks
We Try the New Bulleit 10-Year Aged Bourbon
Bulleit Distilling Company already has a pair of well-loved whiskeys on the market: their bourbon is a consistent fan favorite, and their rye has the supreme distinction of being declared one of Will Gordon's "very favorite liquors" in a recent whiskey battle. Not content to rest on their laurels, Bulleit recently released an extra-aged version of their flagship bourbon. Select barrels of the spirit were set aside to age for a full 10 years in charred American white oak, and the result is headed to a shelf near you. We decided to try the new release side by side with its younger sibling.
The original Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey has a high rye content, which reveals itself in the scent: smoky oak blends with vanilla and a spicy rye freshness. The flavor is pretty straightforward, a sweetness from the corn joining with spices and leading to a medium finish. It's uncomplicated and enjoyable but retains a certain ruggedness, a welcome departure from similarly priced entry-level bourbons.
The 10-year aged version pours a medium amber and has a boozy, oaky aroma. The wood (with a little vanilla and cinnamon) is actually so dominant that it's hard to get past it. On tasting the oak continues to dominate, eventually mellowing enough to yield sweet caramel and finally barrel spices, finishing warm and strong. It's a sweet and thick bourbon that tastes hotter than its 91.2 proof.
To be honest, I'm a bit confused by this release. The rye contribution Bulleit is known for gets entirely lost in the 10 year old bottling. It's a wood bomb that does mellow a bit as you let it oxidize in the glass, but that transformation just allows the sweetness to round out the wood—the rye never reappears. To me, it's an overaged whiskey and you'd be best served sticking with the original. But if you're a big fan of Bulleit and want to see what an extra 4 years in the barrel can do, check it out and let us know what you think. Bulleit 10 is currently available in select markets for around $45, and is rolling out nationwide shortly.
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.
Whiskey samples were provided for review consideration.