Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Review) Bulleit Rye Whiskey 90 proof

Mystique: 1-10 points
Score: 7 New, No ads I've seen, two extra points for their bourbon's reputation

Color: 1-10 points
Score: 8 nice, amber with a hint of orange

Scent: 1-10 points
Score: 9 vanilla, oak, deep

Initial impression: 1-10 points
Score: 8 looks great, neat bottle, smells great

Mouthfeel: 1-10 points
Score: 9 slick and oily with a tingle

Taste: 1-10 x 4 points
Score: 36 smokey, peppery on the front, flowery on the back

Raw Score: 77 points

Bonus: Value 1-10 points
Score: 8 good price point 21.95 a fifth

Total Score: 85 points

I realized as we get closer to July 4th that even though I must have 8 different bottles of Rye Whiskey in my liquor cabinet I haven't posted about a single one. It's my favorite whiskey with a long American traditon. Unfortunately unless you live on the East Coast you've probably never seen it until recently. Fortunately it's enjoying it's own rebirth and revolution. Thanks to this, there are several good American Ryes with nationwide distribution now availible.

Why does rye go with July 4th? Because until prohibition it was the America's whiskey. Enjoyed and produced in the colonies. When you ordered a whiskey while debating life liberty and the pursuit of happiness you got a glass of rye. American Rye is produced using a majority of rye grain in the mash. By law it has to be 51% rye. This makes a whiskey that's peppery yet smooth. Like bourbon it's aged in charred oak barrels. Straight Rye is aged at least 2 yrs. During and after prohibiton American Rye became confused with Canadian Rye whiskey which was referred to as just Rye Whiskey and the name became forever muddled and confusing. Canadian Rye Whiskey can be 90% corn and only 10% rye and has a completely different flavor profile than it's American counterpart. I'll touch on a true Canadian Rye in another review. American Rye Whiskey is further broken down into 2 styles. The Pennsylvanian style, which is more dry and peppery and the Maryland Style whis is just a little sweeter and less peppery. Luckily of the surviving brands there was 1 example of each, Old Overlholt (Pennsylvania) and Pikesville Rye (Maryland) so you could still see the difference.

Now getting back to Bulleit Rye, it's the first example of an American Rye whiskey that's right in the middle of the two styles that I have tried. Of the new offerings in rye, they seem to lean one way or the other, but Bulleit nailed it right down the center. It's got some peppery burn in the beginning and a sweeter finish in the end. This is why I recommend that if you're new to rye, try this one first. It's a tasty and even introduction. Straight out of glass it's got a slow burn like the idea of the American Revolution. Like the colonists it's got that charred oaky ruggedness, but somehow seems a little green at the same time. It's rough pepper and fiesty yet somehow refined and smooth by the time it hits your stomach. If you add ice or a little water it opens up a bit of sophistication. Plum and flowers are hiding in that glass. At it's 90 proof bottling it allows more hints of flavor and complexity without the distiller having to water it down to the standard 80. Bulleit is well crafted, smooth and tasty, a fine exapmle of American Rye Whiskey. Try it in a classic cocktail that originally called for rye like The Sazarec, The Manhattan, or even the Mint Julep. As rye got more scarce and the American palate craved the sweeter bourbon these cocktails had their main ingredient replaced. They're very good with bourbon, but different with rye. No other spirit gives the flavor of America like rye. It's bold and brash while complex, crafted and a little naive all at the same time. Try a glass of history while celebrating our nations birth and think of how the spirit in your glass tastes a bit like freedom.

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