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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.