Bulleit Bourbon: 11 Facts Whiskey Fans Might Not Know

Bulleit bourbon BLT
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Love a solid glass of bourbon? Chances are you’re very familiar with Bulleit whiskey. The liquid gold from Kentucky is an American staple at any good whiskey bar, and while you may know it goes down easy, neat, or in a variety of cocktails, there’s a few facts and statistics about the original frontier spirit you may not be acquainted with. Here, 11 of our favorite kernels of knowledge about Bulleit bourbon.

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Pronounce the “T” please

For those wondering how to properly pronounce the brand’s name, it’s with a hard T. This isn’t a French company so you don’t need to soften the ending.

Bulleit was a real person, and a bit of a badass

The first batch of Bulleit came from a fellow named Augustus Bulleit, back in 1830. The original mash bill was ⅔ rye and ⅓ corn, though that recipe has changed over the years. Bulleit himself is a bit of an enigma, as he vanished around 1860 and little is known about his disappearance beyond that he piled bourbon barrels onto a boat and set off towards New Orleans. When he never turned up, search parties fruitlessly scoured the waterways and towns.

Bulleit bourbon is nearly a rye

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. (If you’re looking for the difference between bourbon and whiskey, we’ve got you covered over here.) In 1987, Augustus’ great-grandson Thomas Bulleit reinvigorated the family business and started by tweaking the original family recipe. Today’s Bulleit bourbon has a high rye mash bill, with about ⅔ corn and ⅓ rye. That amount of rye is more than any other bourbon mash bill, and it’s responsible for the spirit’s unique flavor.

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Bulleit boilermaker
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The unique taste is helped along by a custom yeast strain

Also helping set Bulleit apart is the Kentucky limestone-filtered water and a proprietary yeast strain that helps eke out a little extra flavor from the grain. Sip it neat and you’ll find it’s got a spicy backbone, with a rich, oaky aroma on the nose. Discerning palates will pick up hints of vanilla, spice, and pepper, and those flavors linger thanks to a full, long finish.

It was nearly called Thoroughbred Bourbon

When Tom Bulleit was relaunching the brand, he had largely settled on naming it Thoroughbred Bourbon, but after a meeting with some advertising agency executives, a new concept rooted in frontierism was suggested. Ultimately, the name became Bulleit Frontier Whiskey.

Yes, the label is supposed to be crooked

Back in Augustus’ days, labels were placed on at an angle. This was done because, at an angle, you can have a bigger font and you could see the name clearer from across the bar. When production started back up, Tom Bulleit thought it would be a nice throwback to his great-grandfather to keep that tradition alive.

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Bulleit didn’t have its own distillery until recently

About a decade after Bulleit relaunched, Seagrams bought the company. Later, when Diageo bought a chunk of Seagrams, Bulleit transferred over. Until recently, Bulleit bourbon was distilled in various other Diageo distilleries, but in 2017, a Bulleit distillery opened in Shelbyville, Kentucky. There’s now a visitor experience center for those winding through the Bourbon Trail, so feel free to drop by.

Nearly 2 million gallons of Bulleit bourbon are made each year

That distillery isn’t small, so the company is cranking out bourbon at an astonishing rate of 4.1 million gallons of proof liquor each year. That’s enough for 750,000 nine-liter cases.

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Thank California bartenders for the creation of Bulleit 95 Rye

Bulleit’s a bartender’s brand, and Tom hand-sold bottles of his bourbon in a lot of bars up and down California when he was starting out. It really caught fire in places like San Francisco, where it was in such high demand that the bartenders were bummed that Bulleit didn’t make a rye for when customers ordered rye cocktails. Bulleit listened and developed a standalone rye in 2011.

Bulleit is priced for the masses

While pricing will vary in different markets, the average suggested retail price for a 750ml bottle of Bulleit Bourbon is around $25.

One of Bulleit’s flagship drinks is named for Tom’s wife, Betsy

The Bulleit BLT, below, is a tasty cocktail made with 1.25 oz. Bulleit Bourbon, 4 oz. tonic water, and a lemon wedge, but it also goes by the name of Betsy’s Little Treat, as it’s her preferred Bulleit beverage.

Bulleit BLT

• 1.25 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
• 4 oz. tonic water
• Lemon wedge

Serve on the rocks, in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Bulleit Old Fashioned
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Want more cocktail recipes? Try a Bulleit Boilermaker or a Frontier Old Fashioned, courtesy of the brand, below.

Bulleit Boilermaker

• 1.25 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
• 1 glass of beer

Pour Bulleit into a shot glass. Pair with a beer.
Note: Each Boilermaker contains two servings of alcohol

Recommended Bourbon & Beer Pairings:
Bulleit Bourbon & Lager or Amber Ale
Bulleit Rye & IPA or Blonde
Bulleit 10 & Stout or Saison

Frontier Old Fashioned

• 1.25 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
• 2 bar spoons simple syrup
• 3 dashes Angostura bitters
• 1 orange peel

Add two bar spoons of simple syrup, three dashes of bitters and Bulleit Bourbon to a large rocks glass. Add ice. Stir gently until the level of the ice and liquid equalize. Zest an orange peel over the glass then add the peel to the drink as a garnish.

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