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Bulleit 95 Rye

Punishing delight

0 1285

@NockReview by @Nock

30th Sep 2013

0

  • Nose
    ~
  • Taste
    ~
  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
    ~
  • Overall
    85

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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.

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12 comments

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Nock - I found the nose on this expression to be absolutely incredible - some lavendar...and on the palate, some ...soap... I was so disappointed.

8 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

The nose is incredible (especially for the price). What kind of glass are you using? I have found different glassware really affects the nose - and in some cases the palate experience.

8 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Nock, Yes indeed, a few months does wonders for this brilliant example of rye grain whiskey. I too will be buying another.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@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.

6 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

@Victor, 18 months? 2 years???? I need to open multiple bottles at once if I am going to have them last that long. A bottle of Bulleit usually lasts me about 4 to 6 months. In my estimation I have been through about 5 or 6 bottles since this review.

I need to review my current "open" bottle. I think it has had a healthy amount of air over the summer. And I have two different Willett 2yo Rye's to compare it with - along with the Wild Turkey 101 Rye.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Nock, you can just do what I do, open a bottle, drink a shot or two from it, than find a quiet corner for it to sit in while you amuse yourself with the rest of your collection for a couple of years. Check on it every 6 months or so.

To be perfectly clear, I do not like having to wait around for my whiskies to develop their flavours any more than anyone else does. It is the best way to maximize their quality in many cases, though, so I am reluctantly willing to do it.

6 years ago 0

@sorren
sorren commented

It is interesting to hear Victor saying to leave the bottle as long as 18 months, this is a pretty long period, my question would be why is it taking so long to reach a peak ? Is it a bourbon thing as I have noticed this type of comment in a few places regarding bourbon, I know a fair few malts open up after time but it is generally within months, maybe this is why bourbon has never hit the spot with me..

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@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.

6 years ago 0

@sorren
sorren commented

Sorry about the confusion with the bourbon comment, yes it is a rye whisky, my mistake. The oxidation in malts as you say can help or spoil a whisky, I just thought the way I had read your reply was referring to a more natural "opening up " of flavours..

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

I think that the ongoing evolution of flavours can reasonably also be referred to as an ongoing "opening up" of the experience of the whisky. Really, the evolutionary process is a continuum. I just want to draw attention to the fact that the longer term changes in some whiskies are very significant, and can in some cases bring about a significant improvement in their flavours which is worth waiting for.

6 years ago 0

@sorren
sorren commented

I find this very interesting, unfortunately I have not had a bottle left open for this kind of period, I will have to put a bottle aside and see the results, I think it's something I can do with samples taken at regular points and in time have a mass tasting comparison.. A good project me thinks..

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@sorren, my bottles that are open for years remain so primarily because I have 100 or so bottles open, and do not drink them down quickly. It is also true that a 'so-so' whisk(e)y gets put aside and ignored for longer periods than one about which I am enthusiastic. These long periods allow me to notice the changes, and yes, sometimes radical improvements, which occur within the open bottles of whisky over time.

I am not happy about having so many bottles open at this time, and most of them have been open for 4 years or more now. I have long ago decanted most of these bottles because I want to limit additional exposure. On the other hand if I have a bottle I don't like I will leave it exposed to air within the original bottle and observe it periodically to see whether air improves it.

6 years ago 0

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