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Bulleit 95 Rye

Average score from 14 reviews and 51 ratings 86

Bulleit 95 Rye

Product details

  • Brand: Bulleit
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 45.0%

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@markjedi1
Bulleit 95 Rye

About two years ago I first encountered the very quaffable and dirt cheap Bulleit Bourbon. They also have a rye vesion. It is currently owned by Diageo, but is secretly (well, not really) distilled at the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg. Let us give that Bulleit 95 Rye a go.

Cherries! That’s the first impression I get on the nose. Upholstered with leather, tobacco and a truckload of vanilla. I would have expected more spices, as rye is the main ingredient. I also get some nail polish remover, which does not really sit well with me. Something green as well. Parsley? Hay? Hmmpf. After a few moments this evolves toward coconut milk and shoe polish. Excuse me? Yup.

It is sweet and sou rand spicy on the palate. I cannot quite pinpoint it, but I am reminded of the Far East. Sorry, I cannot help it. Some incense and Chinese tea. Albeit with a lot of fruit in it. Cherries, coconut, oranges. And some sweet butter. Quite creamy.

Long, spicy finish in which the rye finally manifests itself.

Obviously this is bang for your buck, because of the low price, but I would not order a second shot immediately. Left me a bit unmoved.

@Rantavahti

This Bulleit comes from MGP of Indiana from Lawrenceburg. Since they call it frontier whiskey and the taste is bold, I'll call it Indiana Jones of whiskey.

95% rye and 5% malted barley promises a good dram and that's what this rye is. Even though it doesn't rise to greatness. Fresh and adventurous it is.

Nose: Fresh with spices, herbs and rye notes. Tobacco in a sophisticated way. Nose is the most delicate part.

Taste: Sweet and smooth, yet with rough and strong rye. Tropical citrus notes, crispy lemon is present. Bit peppery and even though strong and spicy, still it manages to be smooth.

Finish: Warming spices with fresh minty notes. Taste of cinnamon feels good.

Balance: Nice whiskey, which mixes sweetness and fresh breeze with powerful rye.

Thanks very much for your review, @Rantavahti. I see your references to spices and citrus, but not to dark fruits. Your bottle sounds very much like my first bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye.

I did the very first Connosr review of Bulleit 95 Rye 50 months ago, and gave it the exact same score that you did. Please take a look at the comment trail of my review. If your bottle is similar to mine, you may find it attaining outrageous and delightful levels of both nasal and palatal DARK fruitiness--black cherries, plums, grapes--after it is open for very long periods of time. After that long wait I finally understood why Jim Murray went so ape-shit over Bulleit Rye. Before that time my bottle continued to have some lingering locked-up-flavour types of features, and I was scratching my head over some people's extreme levels of enthusiasm for Bulleit Rye.

I recently sampled for the first time the 50% ABV James E. Pepper 1776 Rye, another MGP product. That one has the huge dark fruit bouquet available early after the bottle is opened.

Thanks @Victor. My first impression was actually even better than the score I gave but somehow Bulleit Rye didn't feel as good as the first kick of rye it gave me. It's funny how I always like the first shot of newly opened bottle (is the term "bad bottleneck" in English? That's what we use in Finnish) unlike my whisky buddies here in Finland. Or at least they pretend not to like it...

But yes, I do believe it will get better as you say. I have to try not to enjoy too much my open bottle so that I can enjoy it even more later on. Looking forward on getting those dark notes!

@Demoncase

Preamble: Transitioning through LAX, swing by Duty Free and spot this 100cl bottle of this little gem for about 2/3rds the price of the 70cl bottle in the UK. Yoink, as they say.

Nose: Burnt sugar, little hint of tree sap- that faintly woody note you get in the spring in a pine woodland. That vanilla undertone I get in many a bourbon and reminds me of the tricolor'd slab of Angel Cake from my childhood.

Taste: There's a deep, burnt orange smokey battering ram with the first sip- then this huge arc of woody-phenolic flavour that overcomes all for most of the time it's in your mouth, giving way to a deep spicy and herby end. The Oaky-cigar-box taste is really prominent in the middle ground all the way through- it makes the whole thing much more aromatic than the bourbons I tend to like. I was bit taken aback by this blast of wood- it immediately made me think of the last couple of times I've refinished gunstocks- the tang of teak oil and the mouth-drying beech or walnut dust in the air that you can taste as much as smell. Phenolic almost. Definately leathery. While this is lighty, it deepens with an ice-cube from a less burnt wood to a more resinous wood.

Overall- It's a grower rather than an instant love. That blast of oak calms down a load with an icecube, but it's still a challenge. I've noted that a lot of folks suggest letting it breath stretches it's legs and rounds off some of the sharp edges.

Definitely something I'll reach for when I fancy something more unusual.

Update: Still quite dry and grassy after being open a few weeks- But now much smoother and more mouth-watering peppery flavours. Will compare to the basic Bulleit at a later date.

@Fiberfar

I first opened this bottle of 95 Rye in August last year, but was advised to give it some time to let it air, by @Victor. I wrote the notes two months later, in October, and found it to have improved a lot in a short time.

Nose: Honey, spices and apples. I instantly get sweet notes of overripe fruits, but with a bit of air, these develop into sweet oranges. The intensity of the nose is really enjoyable for me.

Taste: Spices, with an increased intensity over time. Oak barrels and caramel. There is also the faintest hint of mint. The 95 Rye is both sour and sweet at the same time, and with a noticeable rye character. I've noted that I at a couple of occasions got salt, but that might as well just have been my palate that day.

Finish: A long aftertaste of spices, green apples and mint/spearmint. Some vanilla.

I never sat a mark on Bulleit 95 Rye the first time I opened it, but I'll make sure to revisit and review it in August this year, after a whole year.

@Fiberfar, thanks for a good review. I think that if you continue to have the bottle around that you will indeed continue to notice changes over the next 6 to 18 months with this bottle. Probably you will get some more dark fruits, and a stronger, more pungently fruity nose. I found that Bulleit Rye just got better and better with time and air. It is common for US ryes to get richer and fruitier with air exposure.

The distillery, LDI/MGPI (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, now Midwest Grain Products Ingredients) often gives some mint flavour in the mix. That is almost certainly the result of the yeast used. Four Roses bourbons often also have some spearmint noticeable.

When you get used to the 'house style' of MGPI Rye, you should easily be able to identify that distillery when you encounter it in its other sourced brands: George Dickel Rye, Templeton Rye, James E. Pepper Rye, Redemption Rye, Smooth Ambler Rye, Filibuster Rye, and some of the younger Willett Family Estate Ryes. It is a distillery with a very big output, but it doesn't sell anything under its own name.

@Fiberfar, Jim Murray is a big fan of rounded and fruity flavours from rye whisk(e)y, as evidenced in his adoring statements about LDI/MGPI ryes, such as Bulleit, and also of the rye of Alberta Distillers Limited, which is quite similar in its rounded quality to MGPI. MGPI used to be the Canadian giant Seagram's Distillery, so it is not too surprising that there are some similarities in its styles and industrial practices to some other Canadian distillers. MGPI ryes range from otherworldly good to underdeveloped. For example, some of the 3 to 5 year old Willett Family Estate Ryes are from LDI/MGPI distillate and are divine. Those are examples of the fully blossomed butterfly MGPI ryes. There are also chrysalis MGPI ryes, which I consider Redemption, and a newly opened Bulleit to be. At its best, MGPI rye is indeed fantastic, but for me it gets there maybe 10-30% of the time. That rounded style only works strongly for me when it is in full bloom and full glory. I usually prefer a pointed flavour US rye to a 'chrysalis' rounded style rye.

Yes, remember that you don't want to buy any American whiskey at less than 45% because those are the cocktail blending whiskies after the best barrels have been skimmed off for the premium products...the American equivalent of 'bottom shelf blended Scotch'.

Personally, I love spearmint but not in whiskey, so I am with you in finding it to be 'too much', most of the time.

The High West Rendezvous and Double Rye still use half their vattings from MGPI. Rendezvous is likely the favourite for most among those available to you for quality, and I expect that you will like it. Rendezvous is more pointed than Bulleit. Even so, it will be good for you to also taste another more pointed style US Rye, like Knob Creek Rye or Rittenhouse Rye. The Rittenhouse Rye 50% would likely be a good place for you to go soon.

@talexander

Let's compare two proper ryes - an American (95% rye, 5% malted barley) and a Canadian (100% rye). Why? Well...why not? Let's start with the US: Bulleit Rye.

The colour is a medium, reddish gold. On the nose you immediately get honey, vanilla and rye spice (caraway). Very fruity with green apple and pear, but also quite floral. The peppery oak is bracing. Herbal with mint and sage. Buttered rye toast. A drop of water brightens everything up - more floral now. Very complex and alluring!

Mouthwatering on the palate - dark caramel, soft vanilla and hard spice. A terrific combination of fruit and spice. Baked apples, raspberries and lightly burnt toast with honey. As with the nose, the flavours are brighter with some water. Very well structured.

The finish features even deeper apples and pears, black pepper and oak. This is truly spectacular, there is no comparison between this and their bourbon. In fact, the branding is the only thing they have in common, as this rye is distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (whereas I believe the bourbon is distilled at Four Roses). Bursting with character and complexity, this is a must have, and an excellent example of American rye whiskey at its finest. It will take a lot for the Canadian to beat this...

@talexander, glad you liked it. Stirred or shaken as long as it's chilled and a little ice melts.

It's taken me a while to perfect it. A labor of love. A couple of hints:

3 drops of bitters Only, Not dashes as in some recipes.

Good Vermouth, doesn't have to be expensive just taste good on its own. I bought some expensive Vermouth, it tasted awful, made my Manhattan taste awful.

Don't forget the cherry.

Be careful a 3oz Bulleit Rye Manhattan goes down pretty easy and the second one even easier.

Enjoy. I have an Old Fashion recipe that's pretty dram good too, uses @Victor's Old Grand Dad 114 bourbon.

Bulleit 95 Rye also makes my Favorite Manhatan. 3 oz Bulleit Rye, 1 oz sweet vermouth, 3 drops bitters, shaken over ice, drained into a Martini glass, garnish with cherry.

Funny you mention LDI or now MGP, it use to be The Segrams distillery. Bulleit Rye is made at MGP in Lawrenceburg. Bulleit bourbon is made at Four Roses distillery. Jim Rutledge master distiller of Four Roses start his career at the Segrams distillery in Lawrenceburg.

@ElCocos

Bulleit 95 Rye (45% OB 2014) 86/100

Nose: Perfumy, toothpaste, rye, lemon, hint of grapefruit. After a few minutes in the glass it gets more candy like, I can pick up raspberry bonbon and vanilla. A gin character to it aswell, very nice nose

Palate: Very sweet, mint, some cloves and ginger. It got some heat to it that dulls the palate abit for a moment, just like Four Roses small batch.

Finish: Layer of tingling spices, mint still there, white pepper, camphor candy and raspberry bonbon. Abit salty and good amount of vanilla. Medium length

Tooth Paste for sure, a mountain of medicinal mint. I don't get what all the fuss is about. Closest thing to Collingwood 21 YO Rye I've tasted yet. I think I'm going to ask for my money back.

@adnielsen

nose: a bit harsh, raspberry/cherry, caramel, cola

flavor: toffee, light chocolate, lightly spicy rye, apple, fairly strong oak, herbal

finish: lots of grainy oak, vanilla, slightly herbal, a bit spicy

overall: slight chemical note in the aroma but the flavor is smooth and fairly tasty. not as spicy as some ryes but not as bad choice. $4 one ounce pour @ William Oliver's Publick House in Fort Collins.

@Nock

This bottle was bought and opened mid June of this year. It was over half empty by mid July. I have tried to leave it alone to let oxygen work its magic. This is a combination of two reviews (one in mid July – score 85 and one in mid September – score 85.5) both remarkably close. I score out of 5 categories. I am actually very surprised I was so consistent with both scores. It tells me no real change.

Nose: This is much sharper and more juicy then the Sazerac. It is also much fruitier – almost like a red jolly rancher. There is so much more spice, zip and life then the Sazerac. Wow – much more power and intensity: this almost feels like 50% to the Sazerac being 40% - but they are both 45%! Rye is way, way stronger. I’m smelling that distinct rye smell along with leather, grains, and a strong sweetness I associate with my Grandpa’s barn feed. Ah, there is that classic “mint” note from LDI. I enjoy this, but only in a punishing kind of way. There are moments of this being magical . . . but it is just so young. There is a burned tire quality, charred metal and logs. However, there is an interesting sweetness behind all that burnt stuff: a nice sweetness that works very well. That has much more depth and full bodied-ness to it then the Sazerac. There is a whole lot going on here.

Taste: You get that same burnt metal quality on the front. Then it fades to a decent blend of sweet and sour mix. More sour on the tongue then the Sazerac. Still it is smooth on the tongue with a much stronger rye note then the Sazerac. You are not mistaking this for anything but Rye! Sour and rye bread with salt and fire.

Finish: Big sharp attack . . . it backs off and then strikes again. Leaves a nice rye trail with some mint and sea salt. The sharp sting of Rye cuts right through you. It hits you and then take a giant breath . . . salt water licks the inside of your mouth. As you swallow you force more salt and singed wood into your mouth. Not so much a wave as a cavernous waste where your mouth use to be. Still this is all glass-coated rye stinging your mouth.

Complexity, Balance: Far more complexity then the Sazerac. I find it much deeper and much spicier all around then the Sazerac. But the Sazerac has a nice balance that makes it an easy sipper . . . this not so much. It is almost punishing to drink.

Aesthetic experience: This is also trying to do the old time-y thing with the old school bottle. But I like it way less then the Sazerac. I do like that they tell you the mash bill (95% rye here). I wish Sazerac did this.

Conclusion: To me this is much more of a classic rye whisky then Sazerac. I also like it better as a Manhattan. My grade for the balance and aesthetic experience really brought it down from the simple taste enjoyment side (I actually do grade on the aesthetic experience of a bottle). @Victor has told me that this really gets good after 6 to 8 months of being open. Sadly, my bottle won’t last that long. I am now down to two fingers. I’ll be buying another soon.

@sorren, this isn't bourbon, but it is also true that there are some batches of bourbons for which lengthy oxygen exposure is a great benefit. I would not describe the 12,18,or 24 month open periods which I am referring to as being in the same category as the initial "opening up" of the whisky, which occurs within days to a few months. The longest I have seen for initial opening up of the flavours is about 7 months. These longer periods describe a more advanced evolution of flavours which occurs in some whiskies and not in others. These long-term evolutions of flavour in the presence of oxygen can be either positive or negative developments with respect to the enjoyability of the whiskies. In the case of US straight rye whiskies, there are frequently extremely beneficial and fruity evolutions which occurs with quite a few of the products after a very long time.

I have seen seen positive long term (defined as 12 months or more) flavour development in the evolution of some malts too, including bottles I have owned of Aberfeldy 12, Ardbeg Corryvreckan L11 012, and Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. In the case of each of these three bottles I thought that the malt was pretty horrible until a year or more had passed in the open bottle. After that, they were all quite delicious.

@Nock, it takes more than a few months to optimize Bulleit Rye, if my first bottle of it was any indication. My suggestion is to let the bottle sit around ANOTHER YEAR. Try it then. It is not uncommon for US ryes, and especially MGPI ryes, to explode with fruitiness after the bottles are open 18 months plus. I have seen this phenomenon with quite a few ryes from different distilleries, including Old Overholt (Beam), Pikesville Supreme (Heaven Hill), Van Winkle 13 YO Family Reserve Rye (Barton and Medley?), and Bulleit 95 (MGPI).

I was absolutely astonished at what happened to my fully serviceable but somewhat ho-hom bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye after it was open for 2 years. The fruit bouquet would nearly @Nock you over.

@GBrough

This is my first rye whiskey I have had rye heavy bourbons but nothing like this, its is succulent, fruity, spicy, and dry a different beast than bulleit bourbon.

The nose: very fruity, low spice, tiny amounts of oak, vanilla, and a hint of alcohol burn. Palate: like someone else mentioned it takes a minute to rev up its engine during the first 5 seconds it is sweet and fruity, after that the rye shines through with vanilla, fruit, rye spice and a dry fruit to make it feel dry all the way through the time you taste it. Finish: the spice is here and it numbs my tongue a tiny bit in the good way that tells you i just had whiskey, but before the numbing I get fruit, dried spices, vanilla and a nice alcohol burn in the end.

I will let this oxidate for 4 months, occasionally having a finger of it to "test" the whiskey within. This is dangerous so light you can forget you are drinking a 90 proofer.

@WhiskyBee

Bulleit 95 Rye is an example of how vastly different whisky lovers’ taste buds can be. Only one review on Connosr mentions mint, while among online reviewers, only Jason Pyle mentions it in passing on one of his video blog entries. Yet mint is the dominant element I get with Bulleit 95—although, as I mentioned in my review of Willet’s Single Barrel, I tend to get mint flavors and aromas in just about any American bourbon or whiskey I sample. Spearmint in particular. No complaints, mind you. I like mint.

Others have covered the backstory and components of this whisky very well, so I won’t waste much space repeating information that can be found in several Bulleit Rye reviews. The mashbill is composed of a whopping 95% rye. It’s distilled at the mysterious Lawrenceburg Distillers of Indiana (LDI), about which Chuck Cowdery devotes a few articles on his great blog. And the brand is owned by Diageo, because they own everything that isn’t owned by Warren Buffet or Bill Gates.

Nose: Mint! Rye! Mint! Rye! Like a Wrigley’s spearmint gum sandwich on Beefsteak rye bread, to be exact. And maybe a few other things: vinegar, cloves, citrus fruit, vanilla, and a touch of honey. Some of the underlying notes (especially the vinegar) are a little off-putting, but I’m finding it difficult to pull my Glencairn away from my proboscis. I don’t know that I’d call it a great nose, but it’s certainly a fascinating one.

Palate: Got that mint ‘n’ rye thing goin’ again. Also a strong presence of bitter berries and peppery spices that add some serious zing and a hot-sauce tingle. The same flavors continue into the finish and are joined by smoky wood and a return of the vinegar (or maybe dill pickles; I can’t decide which).

It’s a strange combination of flavors, but it works for me. Of the ryes or rye-based bourbons I’ve tried, this comes in a solid second to T.H. Handy Sazerac. I’d recommend drinking it neat, as even a drop of water kills some of the great spicy burn (a very different thing than mere alcohol burn). And it’s got almost enough mint to serve double duty as a gargle.

@Swan

As far as hi-rye content mash bills go, this one at 95% is surprisingly approachable right off the bat. At first introduction the nose carries hints of burnt caramel, cherry, tobacco and a faint tease of cabinet spices like nutmeg, clove, and freshly ground black pepper. On the palate, this one feels fat when it first hits your tongue with flavors of carmel, butter cream, and again cherry and tobacco. It then lends itself nicely to the rye grain that is complimented by the lingering sweetness of the butter cream and the spice of the black pepper. A medium finish lends itself to the oily, almost viscous texture that coats the back of your throat with an invitation to take another pull. I enjoy this one on the rocks and enjoy the nuances that appear as it is gradually cut with every sip. A steal at $24.

@joshk

Bulleit is known for its bourbon with a relatively high rye content: 28%. They have recently released a rye whiskey made from 95% rye. This rye is distilled in Indiana, not Kentucky and bottled at 90 proof.

Nose: The smell on this has a definitive spice to it. It's herbal, I'd almost describe it as spearmint with a cherry background. Sweet and syrupy.

Taste: Mmmm, I need a minute ... that good. Rye grain but it's incredibly smooth and sweet. Cherry maple syrup and a little woody vanilla too. There is definitely mint here, and some other spices (typical of rye but I can't put my finger on them). The rye is not as 'hot' as you'd expect for 95%.

Finish: Continues with the cherry and maple syrup. Very smooth, with no alcohol burn at all. Coats the mouth but disappears relatively quickly.

I bought this bottle 10 days ago and am finishing it today. Admittedly, I originally bought it and used about 1/2 bottle for Rye & Coke before I figured out how great it was neat. Its plenty affordable, I paid $25 in New Jersey, USA. Makes for a great Manhattan too. Will be buying a new bottle shortly.

I absolutely agree- this makes a fantastic Manhattan.

This is my favorite Rye at the moment! The bourbon is pretty good too.

@GT2

Served neat. Pours a clear orange amber. A thin ring sticks around the rim of the glass and give it some time, and massive legs drip down with ferocity. Something tells me this is going to be good. Nose on this is pretty much superlative: burnt oak and char, wild amounts of vanilla and honey, smoke, citrus, powerful florals, banana bread, Amarillo, coconut. Taste is where this really shines though: earthy, sharp alcohol with practically no "heat", spicy oak, banana bread, walnut, bitter citrus, soft wood, fatty meat. Incredibly soft and easy to enjoy. Very well balanced in the finish: soft, restrained. Amazing.

I fell in love with the Bulleit Bourbon a couple of days ago. So good, fresh and fruity. I add the 95 Rye to my wishlist after seeing an ad in WM. Now, you convinced me.

Hum... nice review and makes me want to add this to my wishlist.

@Victor

Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey has just been very recently released by Diageo, which owns the Bulleit brand. Diageo itself distills neither bourbon nor rye whiskey. For a lively discussion of the mysteries surrounding the distillery source of this whiskey, and for that matter, Bulleit Bourbon, see Chuck Cowdery's blog: Diageo May be Dissing Me. The mashbill is 95% rye, 5 % malted barley. As Cowdery points out, the Bulleit 95 Rye appears to be distilled at the Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana distillery (LDI). This whiskey is reported to be aged between 4 and 7 years.

Nose: honey with rye spice, sweet orange

Taste: mellow, sweeter than most ryes, very smooth, very spicy but the spice sort of creeps up on you during the delivery. The delivery starts in a very understated way, almost disappointingly for about 4-5 seconds, then VROOOOOOMMMMM!, the spices kick in. This rye seems to be flavoured overwhelmingly with spice, without a signficant balance from wood flavours. The spices are strong, but to my palate, not as clear in character as the very best rye whiskies. There is vanilla and some caramel, but it is not of the intensity of the rye spice, when it finally arrives.

Finish: the flavour stays the same for a long time...spicy,spicy,spicy.

Balance: this is nice, and it has grown on me since my first tasting. Overall, my impressions thus far are that I actually prefer the Bulleit Bourbon over this Bulleit 95 Rye whiskey, because, oddly, it seems to me to have more flavour. You would not expect a 30% rye whiskey to have more flavour than a 95% rye whiskey, but there are many factors involved in the distillation and storage in addition to the grain content that also influence the final resulting flavour. In this case I like that you can really taste the oak flavours in the bourbon, but they are not very present as a desirable balance in this Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey. In summary, this whiskey has an abundance of rye spiciness, but I do not find it to be well balanced. It is, however, very drinkable, and is a very enjoyable rye whiskey, despite a relative lack of balance among the flavours.

Comments on this reviewed bottle after almost 8 months of the bottle opened: 1)the nose is stronger, spicier and better, quite excellent, in fact, 2) the palatal delivery is more quick to manifest and the rye spicey flavours are more focused than when the bottle was first opened, which is quite nice, 3) wood flavours remain vague, amorphous, and muddy, still unbalanced, as far as I am concerned, 4)a lot of LDI version buttery sweet mint flavour is in evidence now. I consider this to have taken four points forward and three backwards, after the bottle has been opened. The nose is now great, and the palatal delivery improved in speed and spice focus. The wood is still deficient in my mind. And while some may like that sweet buttery LDI mint flavour, for me it is a profoundly strange flavour to find in a rye whiskey. So for me, this is now an 87 whiskey. If I liked the mint, it would be a 90 whiskey.

I too like the Bulleit bourbon more than the rye for the same reason. The woody flavors are more defined. My bottle of Bulleit rye I found to be less intense than described in your review. I found the Russell Reserve 6yo to be more of a vroom of spice delivery. I have also found that it sometimes takes a few tastings for me to really begin to detect all the subtleties and nuances of the whiskey's flavor profile, and I have only had a couple drams from the Bulleit rye where as I'm onto my second bottle of the Bulleit Bourbon.

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