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Bulleit Barrel Strength 2017 edition

Posted on by Eric Burke

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

Well hey there everybody! 

It seems like just a few months ago that we were discussing one of last year's versions of Bulleit Barrel Strength. That's mostly because we were. I bought some in September and didn't get around to reviewing it until January. Life is funny like that sometimes. 

Even though I loved it, because of the recency of my last review I wasn't sure I was going to accept when the PR firm was nice enough to offer me a sample of this year's batch. It turns out that free review samples help the 'ol website budget, so I accepted and told them I would "find something to do with it."

My initial thought was to compare it to last year's version. Last year's was very heavy on the stereotypical Four Roses flavors. But since I am drinking my way through my old sample library, I had already consumed that one. So instead I decided to do something else. I decided I was going to explore the effects of dilution on a barrel proof bourbon. 

I do this quite a bit on high proof bourbons. One of the reasons I like to buy them is because sometimes it means I can add a little water to each glass and make it last longer. Some of them are really good this way. In fact, some are better at the "standard proof" than the standard release is. This time around I decided to dilute the Bulleit Barrel Strength to 90 proof and see how it compares to the standard release. 

Bulleit Barrel Strength

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided by Taylor Strategy. The suggested retail price is $59.99 per 750 mL bottle.

Details: 59.7% ABV. Non-Age Stated.

Nose: Chocolate, cherries, vanilla, caramel, and leather.

Mouth : Peppery heat with mint, anise, caramel, chocolate and vanilla.

Finish: Long and hot with lingering baking spice, honey, chocolate, and mint. 

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Thoughts: The bottle I purchased of last year's batch was fruity. This version captures more of the spicy aspects of Bulleit. Personally, I like last year's better, but I could see someone else preferring this batch. I wouldn't even argue with them since this, while different, is still very good.

If you compare this to the standard release of 90 proof Bulleit, this is similar but stronger. The flavors are basically the same but have been cranked up to 11. If you are a Bulleit fan, I'd recommend this one.

But what happens if you play with it diluted to 90 proof?

Bullet Barrel Strength - Diluted to 90° proof. 

Nose: JuicyFruit gum, banana bread, light caramel, oak and a hint of acetone. 

Mouth: Muted flavors of caramel, vanilla, and mint. Along with some spice and heat. 

Finish: Hot but short with lingering sharp oak and spearmint notes.

Thoughts: Dilution. Was. A. Mistake. This much water destroys this product. If you want a 90° proof Bulleit, drink a pour of one crafted to taste good there. This is better neat or with the addition of a small amount of water or ice. The regular Bulleit Bourbon had a fuller mouthfeel, and the flavors were much more vibrant than the diluted sample. 

Bottom line: If you like Bulleit but wish it had more proof, then buy the Barrel Strength. If you want something a little less hot, go with the 90° proof. But for goodness sake, if you want both, buy both. Don't try to turn one into the other.


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