Bulleit Rye 12-Year-Old

In light of recent allegations made by the daughter of Tom Bulleit of his homophobia and mental and physical abuse toward her, I have made the decision that BourbonGuy.com can no longer endorse products bearing the Bulleit name. The review below has been revised from the original version to reflect this new policy. New commentary has also been added.

I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. All notes and thoughts are my own.

I am a big fan of the MGP 95% rye style of Rye Whiskey. I’ve been a fan since I first tasted Bulleit Rye shortly after it was released. In fact, it was the first rye that I ever really paid attention to. Other ryes just sorta tasted like bourbon but this one tasted different. And over the years, the MGP 95% rye style (of which Bulleit is but one of a number) is easily the most common rye to sit on my shelves. And now that I’ve found that it plays amazingly nice with Amaro Montenegro, I’m guessing it will be on my shelf even more often in the future.

So like I said, I’m a fan of the MGP 95% Rye style of rye whiskey. Some of my favorite aged rye whiskeys have been sourced from MGP. Willett used to put out beautiful 5-12 year old ryes that were the prize of my whiskey shelf (while they lasted). These days, even if they put one out, you couldn’t afford one without a trust fund.

So I was initially pretty excited when I got the press release stating that Bulleit would be releasing a limited edition 12-year-old version of their rye. Especially when I noticed that it was only going to be about $50. I was less excited to learn of the allegations of abuse and homophobia by the face of the brand. Previous to learning of these allegations, I had requested a sample of it and get a taste.

Bulleit Rye 12-Year-Old

Purchase info: This sample was graciously provided by Taylor Strategy for review purposes. It is available in Colorado, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Oregon, California, Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington D.C. Suggested retail price is $49.99.

Details: 95% rye mashbill. 12 year old age statement. 46% ABV

Nose: Mint, pipe tobacco, cinnamon, dill, caramel

Mouth: Spearmint, dill, tobacco, black pepper, anise

Finish: Of medium length. Lingering mint, black pepper and anise

Thoughts: MGP makes a fantastic whiskey. Luckily for me, there are options for the MGP 95% rye on the market that don’t involve the moral balancing act required by the Bulleit brand. On one hand, MGP rye is delicious, on the other I’d rather not continue to enrich a man alleged to have abused his own daughter over her sexuality. So, I will be seeking out this juice from other brands, you however are free to make your own choice in the matter.


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Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey

I’d like to thank Gregory + Vine for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. All notes and thoughts are my own.

I came to a realization over the course of the last month. In this country, blended whiskey has a bad rep. And for good reason. Most of it is crap. Two things crystalized it for me. The first is that I’ve been getting a lot of comments on an old post that reviewed Kentucky Gentleman. In case you were blissfully unaware, Kentucky Gentleman is a blend of 51% bourbon and 49% Grain Neutral Spirits. Yet, it is labeled as “Kentucky Gentleman Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.” Sadly some of the commenters didn’t bother reading the next line on the label which describes the components of the blend. Let’s just say they were unhappy with their purchase. On the other hand, I also had people saying I was a snob because I didn’t like it so…yeah.

But the other thing that crystalized the bad reputation that blended whiskeys get was the sample I received of Eight & Sand, a Blended Bourbon Whiskey from the folks at MGP in Indiana. MGP makes damn fine whiskey. Yet, I saw ”blended” on the label and even though the label explicitly said “No GNS or coloring added,” I still felt a moment’s hesitation when I poured my first glass.

Eight & Sand is a Blended Bourbon Whiskey which, according to labeling regulations, means that it is at least 51% Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The other 49% can be almost any other spirit, but is usually GNS. So yeah, it was that other up to 49% that worried me. They must have been expecting questions like this though because when I asked I was very quickly assured that the non-bourbon portion was composed of rye whiskey, corn whiskey and light whiskey (in case you are curious, light whiskey is whiskey that has been distilled to higher than traditional whiskey’s 160 proof limit but lower than the 190 proof limit which would render it neutral grain spirits. It is then aged in used or uncharred new containers). So this is an all whiskey blend.

The Eight & Sand blend creation actually reminds me a lot of the way many Canadian Whiskies are created. Canadian Whiskies often start with a delicate “base whisky” which is similar to US Light Whiskey. To that they blend in “flavoring whiskeys” made from other types of grain: rye, malt, bourbon-style corn whisky, etc. (but never GNS). Our Neighbors to the North rely on (and acknowledge) their blenders to make a particular whisky what it is. They form an idea or feeling they want to capture or evoke and blend the whisky to that. Which is why I say that Eight & Sand reminds me of a Canadian Whisky in some ways. Sure, in Eight & Sand’s case, the base whiskey is bourbon. But they also set out with the idea to showcase their four primary whiskeys (Bourbon, corn, rye, and light) and then blended a whiskey that can show off what can be done with them.

Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey

Purchase Info: I was graciously provided a 750 mL sample from Gregory+Vine for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle.

Details: 44% ABV. Blended Bourbon. No GNS or coloring added. A blend of Bourbon, Rye, Corn and Light whiskeys.

Nose: Mint, cinnamon and caramel.

Mouth: Bubblegum, mint, and cinnamon spice.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering cinnamon, clove, bubblegum and mint.

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Thoughts: If you had handed this to me with no explanation as to what it was, I would have said it was a pretty tasty bourbon. Knowing that this is a blend, it really shows of the MGP blender’s skill. I mentioned above that the process to create this was similar to the process used in Canadian Whisky. The reason I thought of that is that during our tasting, this reminded me a lot of a really good Canadian Whiskey. I’m thinking something from Wiser’s.

In fact, it shows my biases that when I saw the suggested retail price was roughly $30, I baulked a little. It seemed odd to charge that much for a Blended Bourbon. Yet if someone had handed me this same whiskey and told me it was Canadian, I would have thought the $30 price tag was ludicrously low. I would have bought three or four bottles before they '“wised up.” I guess what I am saying is that you should probably give this one a shot. It is quite good and well worth the asking price.


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Just a Couple of Cocktails

In light of recent allegations made by the daughter of Tom Bulleit of his homophobia and mental and physical abuse toward her, I have made the decision that BourbonGuy.com can no longer endorse products bearing the Bulleit name. The article below has been revised from the original version to reflect this new policy.

I have spent most of the past five days on my hands and knees. After scraping off the glue from 30 year old linoleum and removing two rooms worth of carpet, even with a respirator, my nasal cavities were in no shape to be doing any tastings. But after a hard day of scraping, what I was in shape to do was drink the cocktails that my wife made for me. And they were delicious.

When I was in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, I drank at a bar called Bound in the Cromwell Hotel. They did craft cocktails and they did them well. One of my favorites was an original that they called The Frontiersman. It had an MGP 95% Rye Whiskey, Drambuie, an amaro and Angostura bitters. I didn’t ask for the recipe but did try to recreate it when I got home. I think I got pretty close.

The Frontiersman

Adapted from Bound Bar Las Vegas

1.5 oz MGP 95% Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz Amaro Montenegro
0.5 oz Drambuie
3 dash Angostura Bitters
Orange Peal and Mint for garnish

Stir with ice and serve in a rocks glass with a large piece of ice. Express the orange peal and garnish with orange peal and mint. Do not skip the mint, the scent of the mint really helps this one.

Of course, Drambuie is sweet and I’m really more fond of bitter flavors. So I took this the other way. I really liked how the MGP 95% Rye Whiskey and the Amaro Montenegro played together so I kept them and did a riff on a Black Manhattan. I like things pretty bitter though so I also added Campari to the mix.

Arok’s Black Manhattan Riff

2 oz MGP 95% Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz Amaro Montenegro
0.5 oz Campari
3 dashes Orange bitters
Orange Peal for Garnish

Stir with ice and serve in a rocks glass with a large piece of ice. Express the orange peal and drop it in.

I think this last one is my favorite cocktail right now. I’ve started keeping An MGP 95% rye whiskey on my cocktail station just because it is really the only cocktail I make for myself anymore. Enjoy!


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Remus Repeal Reserve Series II

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 the folks at Gregory + Vine for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion.

In honor of last year’s initial release of Series 1 of Remus Repeal Reserve, produced by MGP in Indiana, I took an in-depth look at the namesake of the brand, George Remus. I just reread it and it’s pretty good, if I do say so myself. In fact, I think I did such a good job that I’m not going to go over the whole thing again. I even did some research in the archives of the New York Times. If you don’t have any inclination to go read last year’s here is the gist. They named this whiskey after George Remus: a pharmacist, a bootlegger, lawyer and a murderer.

This year, I thought I would take a little less time on the namesake and the story and spend a little more time on the whiskey. Namely, how is Series II different than Series I?

There are a few differences you can see right away from the outside of the bottle. Of course, there is the proof. Series I was 94° proof, while Series II has received a healthy proof bump up to 100° proof. The second difference is the makeup of the blend and the age of the components. Both of these use the same two of MGP’s bourbon mashbills: one is listed as “36% Rye” and the MGP Bourbon Product Guide says this one is made up of 60% Corn, 36% Rye and 4% Barley Malt, and the second is listed as “21% Rye” and is composed of 75% Corn, 21% Rye and 4% Barley Malt. 2017’s Series I was made of 50% 12-year-old “21% Rye”, 35% 11-year-old “21% Rye”, 15% 11- year-old “36% Rye.” 2018’s Series II contains four parts. It is 15% 11-year-old “21% Rye,” 50% 10-year-old “21% Rye,” 10% 11-year-old “36% Rye,” and 25% 10-year-old “36% Rye.” This means that the Series II is younger (10 years old in 2018 vs 11 years old in 2017) but has a higher percentage of the higher rye bourbon in the blend (35% in 2018 vs 15% in 2017).

We’ll get into the differences inside the bottle in a minute, but first let’s take a look at what this' year’s release tastes like.

Remus Repeal Reserve Series II

Purchase Info: This review sample was provided by Gregory + Vine for the purposes of this review. Suggested retail price is $84.99. The press release states that “George Remus is currently available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.”

Details: 50% ABV. The blend is composed of: 15% 11-year-old “21% Rye,” 50% 10-year-old “21% Rye,” 10% 11-year-old “36% Rye,” and 25% 10-year-old “36% Rye.”

Nose: Crisp apple, black pepper, cinnamon candies and old, weathered wood.

Mouth: Spicy and warm in the mouth with a nice thick mouthfeel. Black pepper, baking spices, honey and a bit of fruit as it moves back.

Finish: Long and warm. Lingering apple, oak, baking spice and brown sugar.

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Thoughts: Once again this is a delicious bourbon. It’s hard to imagine that it could be otherwise when you consider the vast stocks of bourbon that are sitting in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. This is rich and thick and coats the mouth.

So, now what about those differences Inside the bottle? The first thing you notice is that 2017 is much richer on the nose. Both have a lot of spice, but 2018 hits you with more fruit and more sweetness. On the palate where 2017 was dry, 2018 is much sweeter. It has a thicker mouthfeel and just feels more complicated. Continuing on the theme, the finish of 2018 is longer and sweeter than that of 2017. Overall, I’d say that though both of these are good bourbons, I much prefer 2018’s Series II. It is much more in line with this Bourbon Guy’s tastes.


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Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey

I'm generally not a proof-chaser. 100 proof is about my limit for whiskey before I stop trying to drink it neat and start adding water or a small piece of ice to it. I like my whiskey to be comforting, and I don't find that burning my tongue on alcohol is all that comforting. 

That isn't to say that I dislike high proof whiskeys. I usually like them quite a bit. I just also usually dilute them a little. Notice the use of the word usually there? That's because every once in a while a whiskey hides it's proof a bit. It's got some bite and burn to it, but not enough to make you want to dilute it too much. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I like to drink whiskey neat when I can so that's good. But if it drinks like a whiskey 20 proof points lower...that could make for a rough next morning if you aren't careful.

Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey

Purchase Info: $69.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN.

Details: 56.3% ABV. A blend of the MGP 95% rye and the MGP 51% Rye mashbills aged 5-6 years (according to their PR firm). Made from a batch of 83 barrels.

Nose: Spearmint, pipe tobacco, oak. 

Mouth: Spicy with nutmeg, clove, and honey sweetness. Spearmint as it moves back. 

Finish: Long and warm. Spearmint, citrus, and pipe tobacco. 

IMAGE: A hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this. I really like this. When neat, this is an exceedingly drinkable whiskey for a 112° proof. There is burn, but I've had the same in whiskeys of a lower proof. How does this compare to the 94° proof version? About how you'd expect. The 94° proof expression is more approachable than the Barrel Proof. They both have a similar backbone to them. I find that the influence of the 95% rye is a bit more pronounced in the 112° proof. But that's ok. I'm a big fan of those flavors, so that doesn't bother me in the least. If you are a fan of MGP ryes, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visitBourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!