Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bulleit 12 Year Straight American Rye

VITALS:
- $50
- 92 Proof
- 12 Years
- Indiana

It's been a while since I've been genuinely excited for a non-allocated release, but when I found out that Bulleit was releasing a 12 year old version of their rye, I was going to make sure I snagged one right away. Bulleit Rye (sourced from MGP) has always been one of my mainstay ryes, and I loved the idea of an older version.

So, the day it hit the shelves I made my way to Binny's and grabbed a bottle, brought it home and put it on my shelf. And for some reason, that's where it sat, unopened, for almost two months. I can't really explain why, I just sort of never got around to it.  Apparently there were other bottles that took priority. But they shouldn't have. I love rye, and in particular I love MGP rye, and once I finally did open this bottle it wasn't long for this world.

One of the first notes that I got on the nose was butterscotch. I can't say that I ever got such a note out of other MGP ryes, so it kind of stuck out to me. I also got the familiar pine and cinnamon notes, though the cinnamon was somewhat faint. I also smelled apple cider, and all of these flavors blended together very well to provide a nice, complex and delicious aroma, yet it didn't come off as pungent. It was light and inviting (perhaps due to the proof).

On the palate I immediately noticed that familiar, sweet pine and cinnamon profile. In fact, these two flavors really dominated. Sweet pine seems like an odd description, even as I type this, but I think anyone familiar with MGP rye might understand what I'm getting at. The cinnamon was prominent and immediately noticeable on the tip of my tongue.

I also got some of the traditional toffee and vanilla notes, which added some richness and sweetness to the flavor. On later pours, these flavors seemed to blend together to just a straight brown sugar flavor, which balanced well with the cinnamon and pine notes.

On the finish, I got a sweet, lingering caramel note that seemed to coat my mouth from front to back. Despite the lower proof, this had a surprisingly long finish, which was capped off by a sweet, cooling mint note that I absolutely loved. In fact, I found I couldn't help but go back for that next sip right way in order to keep replicating that flavor and sensation.

While all of this is good, I did find that there was a light woody note to this rye. More age will do that, certainly.  However, this seemed to impart a tannic bitterness that, while I enjoy wood notes and even a bit of tannin in some whiskeys, simply didn't work in this one. This note stood apart from the other flavors and just detracted from the flavor.

That being said, I think I got what I expected out of this rye. It hit all those notes I love in a rye, with a bit of added complexity. I would have preferred this at a higher proof, especially at barrel strength (a girl can dream!), but for what it is, it met all of my expectations.

Grade: B+

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