Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Review

    “Saddle Your Horses”

Country: USA
Brand: Bulleit Frontier Whiskey
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 
Age: NAS (Said to be around 6 Years)
ABV: 45%

Colour: Light Copper with a dash of Orange.

Nose: The first impressions include Artificially Fruit-Flavoured Bubblegum and Glue. That's not a great start and I decide to give the Bulleit more time in the glass. After an additional hour or so I put my curious nose to work again. The extra air contact certainly helped although hints of the above mentioned Aromas are still there. But I also find Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Charred Oak, Toffee, Sweet Red Apples, light Corn Syrup, Sugar coated Nuts, Orange, Cinnamon, Fresh Mint and some Floral tones I can't quite place. It's Sweet but not overly so thanks to the relatively high Rye content. After a while I get images of saddling a horse. It might be Leather but it's not just that. Odd! The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Taste: The Delivery, while Hot Sharp and Spicy, is nevertheless a bit on the Thin side. The Rye is very noticeable though and the overall Flavour profile is Bitter- Sweet and Spicy. I find Sweet Corn, Vanilla, Caramel, light Syrup, Charred Oak,
Orange, Sugared Nuts, Red Apple, Cinnamon, Pepper, light Menthol and hints of Leather, Bitter Chocolate and Floral Soap. 

Finish: Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Dry towards the end. The Rye Spices are quite evident as well as the Cherries and the slightly Metallic Alcohol Burn. I also find Sweet Corn, Charred Oak, light Menthol, Toffee, Dusty Road, Vanilla, Floral Soap, Sugared Nuts and Orange Liqueur.

The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey does not improve with added Water.  

Rating: 84.5 

Nose: 22 – Taste: 21 – Finish: 20.5 – Overall: 21

General Remarks: The original Bulleit was distilled between 1830 and 1860 by Augustus Bulleit. Only in 1987 the Brand was revived by Thomas E. Bulleit Jr., a great-great-grandson of Augustus. The new mash bill consists of Corn (68%), Rye (28%) and Malted Barley (4%). A Bulleit Distillery does not exist. At least until 2010 the Spirit was produced at the Four Roses Distillery. But Diageo, the owner of the Bulleit Brand since 2010, sold Four Roses to the Kirin Group. It's likely that at least a large part of the Spirit used for Bulleit is still produced at Four Roses but no one knows for sure. In the future, Bulleit will be produced in the new Diageo distillery that is being constructed in Shelbyville , Kentucky as we speak. Production is expected to start still this year. What we do know for sure is that all Bulleit Whiskey matures in the old Stitzel-Weller warehouses in Louisville. The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is priced between 25 and 45 US Dollars, depending on where you live (February 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good. I would love to see it a little Sweeter but I'm afraid they won't change the Mash Bill just for me!

Bulleit 40% ABV

In 2008, Bulleit was launched in the UK market. It was bottled at a lower ABV of 40% however. I tasted a sample that I bought at Master of Malt. As Bulleit is produced in relatively Small Batches, the quality may vary of course. Fact is I did not like it a lot. I'm not sure if it was just this sample but I got lots of Young Oak, Varnish, Alcohol and Cooked Vegetables on the Nose. On the Palate and in the Finish it was Thin, Dusty, Metallic and Mineral without pleasant Aromas. Like I said, it may have been just a bad Sample or a bad Batch. To avoid any risks however I would advise you to go for the 90 Proof only.  

Conclusion: A decent everyday Bourbon, especially if you like Rye Whiskey. Just be sure to give it some time in the glass when you have just opened your bottle for the first time. The Nose is the best part of the Bulleit and I'm still wondering why I got images of Saddling a horse! On the other hand, Whiskey and Horses were a common sight in the Wild Wild West! On the Palate and in the Finish the Bulleit is Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and a little Hot & Sharp. And there are a couple of slightly Artificial Aromas and Flavours that I don't care for too much. However, if my notes are in line with your preferred Bourbon profile you can't go wrong with Bulleit, especially when you can buy it at around 25 bucks. However, if you, like me, prefer your everyday Bourbon a little Sweeter I would like to recommend Wild Turkey 101 or Maker's Mark. 

Jan van den Ende                                                              February 18, 2016


Whisky of the Week said...

Nice review. We tried the Bulleit Bourbon last weekend and at the price point, found it quite good. It's coming up for an official tasting on our list soon.


Jan van den Ende said...

Hi Jeannette, thanks for your kind words. In general I find the Price/Quality ratio of Standard Bourbons much better than Standard Whisky in general, Blends or Malts, Scottish or otherwise.
Look forward to read your review!
Have a Great Weekend!