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Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Frontier Whiskey

Review: Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Frontier Whiskey 84.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 07, 2017

Bulleit Bourbon is produced at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The brand traces its heritage back to 1830 when tavern keeper Augustus Bulleit (after a few experimental trials) created the brand and began to market it locally and eventually to areas outside of Kentucky. As misfortune would have it, Augustus Bulleit disappeared while transporting some barrels of his bourbon to New Orleans, and the brand disappeared for over 100 years. In 1987, Tom Bulleit revived the brand which bears his great grandfather’s name. Today the brand is owned by the Diageo Conglomerate who market the product throughout North America and into Europe.

My sample bottle of Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Frontier Whiskey was bottled at 45.6% alcohol by volume and is the standard bottle sold in North America. According to the Bulleit Bourbon website, the spirit is produced from a rye heavy mash with of course corn as well as malted barley (68% corn, 28% rye, 4% malted barley). The whiskey was blended from selected stocks which were aged for a minimum of 10 years in new white American oak barrels.

bulleit-10In the Bottle 4/5

The 10-year-old bourbon arrives in the clear oval-shaped bottle shown to the left. The clear glass is embossed with lettering which simply states Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey. Under the embossed lettering is an beige label with black print affixed to the bottle at a slight angle which I am sure is intended to give the impression that the Bourbon is hand labelled, and this in turn reinforces the notion that the bourbon is hand-crafted. The bottle is sealed with a cork stopper.

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured the whiskey into my glass it displayed itself as a richly coloured whiskey with a hue that was just beginning that move from copper towards bronze. The whiskey imparts a light sheen on the sides of the glass when swirled and moderately thick legs form on the inside of the glass. The initial nose brings rich smells of new oak, caramel and toffee, vanilla and light baking spices into the breezes. The combination is very engaging.

As I let the glass breathe,the impression of baking spice grew stronger with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg mixing and melding with vanilla and caramel toffee. The rich woody aroma of new oak remained firm in the breezes and I also begin to notice some nice accents of rye grain building.  I am happy to not almost no alcohol astringency despite the high alcohol content. Honeycomb, corn syrup, lush tobacco, hints of almond and marzipan, and a fruitiness akin to marmalade rounds out the aroma which has me quite eager to begin sipping.

In the Mouth 51/60

I am somewhat taken aback by a dry winding woody bitterness that run through the bourbon. Raw wood chips and dry sap dominate the dram and my mouth yearns for some of that caramel sweetness which the breezes above the glass had promised me. I taste rough burlap and leather, dry alfalfa hay, tobacco, and woody cedar and oak. There is light menthol-like coolness which helps the palate deal with the whiskey’s dryness but only a very light impression of caramel sweetness.

I noted that the Bulleit bourbon website recommends serving the whisky on the rocks so I added some ice to my glass. I was pleasantly surprised as usually cooling the spirit will bring out even more bitterness, but this was not the case. I seemed to taste a little more sweetness with added flavours of baking spice (vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and cloves) and bits of dark chocolate. Indeed the whisky is better with ice than without.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The medium bodied whisky has a long dry spicy finish which unfortunately brings too much bitterness across the palate and to the back of the throat. The mouth is puckered after the swallow, but there is not enough caramel sweetness in the exit to balance the dry bitterness.

With ice everything is better as some soothing chocolate and a touch more sweetness provides a foil to the wood spice.

The Afterburn 8/10

I had high hopes for the 10-year-old spirit from Bulleit especially as I am a big fan of the non age stated version of the whisky which is one of the best values in the bourbon whiskey category. The 10-year-old spirit however lacks the balance of its younger sibling. Dry woody flavours dominate and the sweetness promised on the nose never fully materializes.

My suggestion is to serve the elder Bulleit over ice, or better yet, in an Old Fashioned Cocktail.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe

old-fashioned-bulleit-sam_3058Old Fashioned Bulleit

1 1/2 oz Bulleit Bourbon 10 Year Old Frontier Whiskey
1 tsp Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 dash Orange Bitters
Ice Cubes
1 twist of orange peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

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0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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