Bulleit’s great-great-grandfather Augustus emigrated from France to New Orleans around 1800, eventually following the commerce of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Louisville, Ky., where he became a tavern keeper. In keeping with his French heritage, he relied on his knowledge of brandy making to create small batches of Kentucky bourbon that found favor among the settlers of the region in the mid-1800s. Soon his product was traveling with the tide of pioneers headed westward. Business was good, but in 1860, Augustus disappeared while transporting barrels of whiskey to New Orleans, and with him died the making of his legendary bourbon. Until Tom Bulleit came along.
A rich tawny amber in colour. The liquid is of course the same mash bill as Bulleit – not specified, but high in rye (estimates are round the 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% barley range). The bouquet is tangy but at the same time mellow and lusty. Pungent citrus fruits and varnish, layered on top of smooth caramel and fresh oak. By adding a touch of water you can reveal some richer chocolate and spice notes, and the citrus becomes noticeably more like orange peel. The aroma is almost smoke-free, and in the background you get a hint of clove and leather, which is wonderful complexity. There’s plenty of spicy burn. All the aromas concentrate then gently disperse as the liquid surrounds your palate, and you’re left with plenty of oak, cinnamon and orange. The finish is crisp and slightly sweet, giving you caramel, toffee and a little apricot to savour.