New kid in town
Just this week Tom Bulleit and the people at Diageo have added a new Bulleit to their arsenal. Bulleit Rye is the first new product to from the Bulleit family since the brand was revived in 1987. There have been rumors of *something* coming for a while, and while there may be more to come, this is a welcome addition.
This rye has been years in the making. For the last eight years they have been developing and perfecting this whiskey. The same care and attention given to Bulleit Bourbon is obviously present here. The same high standards are used in sourcing the grain from around the world. The grain bill is 95% rye and 5% malted barley. This balance is to allow the natural enzymes of the malt break down the rye starch into fermentable sugar.
Selecting the right yeast strain is a critical part of the fermentation process. Thankfully Diageo has access to an incredible library of yeast strains to find just the right one for Bulleit Rye. Combine this with the extremely clean water from a glacial aquifer and you are off to a great start. Being a straight whiskey we know that it is aged in charred, new oak barrels. There is no age statement on the bottle, but I have it that it's all at least 4 years old.
I had the pleasure of attending the launch party in San Francisco last Wednesday. Steve Beal and the local Diageo whiskey team set up a great party at the Log Cabin on the Presidio. There we had an opportunity to test the mixability of Bulleit Rye with bartenders and mixologists from around the bay area. This rye is wonderful straight up or with an ice cube, but it turns out to be quite versatile also. The recipes from that night are here, and not only did I have a great Manhattan, but the Blasphemy was surprisingly good as well.
In all of the excitement I was only able to spend a few minutes with Tom, who was his charming and affable self.
We started by talking about the new rye and mixing; "They're so different, people are drinking the rye straight and on the rocks". I asked how long this had been in development, "We've been working on it for a long time, obviously when you bring out the whiskeys, the brown goods they're all aged goods. Bulleit is between 5 and 7 years old so literally we started 8 years ago. Which was kind of a gamble and and adventure there dictated as i mentioned earlier pretty much based on the fact that, we love what Bulleit is, it's a family recipe, our bourbon. It's got the right water in it, it's got the right mash bill, certainly, it's got the right yeast. But our bourbons don't get better after six or eight years, that's what it is, and to do something different with that, to me was extremely artificial and as you know our core constituency is the mixologists and the bartenders and that's preaching to the choir. They know exactly what's going on with the chemistry and everything. We have a wonderful partnership in chemistry, in fact with you all. That's absolutely wonderful, so to do artificial things, that seemed not to be who we are at all. So to take another step out into another historic American spirit, and do, since we have a nice big footprint in the rye, to do a straight rye, to take it all the way up to 95% and 5% malted barley so we could do a natural product was something we thought was really exciting. Falling uphill, as I have done often in my life. I think if I have any particular talent it's falling uphill, the ryes have become very popular. An then as if to set the stage here for our San Francisco launch, we won a double gold medal at the San Francisco Spirits competition last weekend."
Color: Black cherry-wood. Nose: Malty vanilla fresh fruit and cardamom with toffee and wood notes. Mouth feel: light but full bodied. Not a heavy or syrupy feel. Palate: starts off fruity, like green grapes giving way quickly to candy and then winter spices. Finish: fresh baked rye bread, winter spices and bitter bark, almost like hop spice.