Bourbon and whiskey consumption is on the rise worldwide, and American bottles are outpacing all others to turn $2.9 billion profits. Kentucky’s own Bulleit bourbon is a star-spangled favorite, with its frontier-chic bottle gracing bars and restaurants nationwide. Loaded with more rye and booze than your average bourbon, this homegrown hero packs a serious punch. Here are nine of our favorite facts about Bulleit bourbon.
Bulleit is a real person’s real name
It seems too good to be true. It’s not. Present-day operations fall under the purview of one Thomas Bulleit, great-grandson of 19th-century distiller Augustus Bulleit. Augustus’ first batch was bottled in 1830.
Please drink responsibly
At 90 proof (45 percent ABV), Bulleit is a heavy, heady bourbon. Original recipe Jim Beam and Four Roses, on the other hand, are 80 proof and 40 percent alcohol by volume. Maker’s Mark bourbon also starts at 90 proof.
Bacon-infused Bulleit is a thing, and it’s easy to make at home
Jeff Bell, head bartender of Manhattan’s iconic cocktail bar PDT, created a recipe for Bulleit enriched with fat from Benton’s bacon. Bell was named the Best American Bartender at the 2017 Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards.
If you like rye, you’ll probably like this bourbon
To be classified as rye, a spirit has to be distilled from at least 51 percent rye. Bulleit bourbon comprises 28 percent rye, making it more than halfway there. Its remaining components are 68 percent corn and 4 percent barley. And like all bourbons, Bulleit by law contains no additives.
Bulleit is owned by Diageo, but it started as a homespun labor of love
In 1987, newlyweds Tom and Betsy Bulleit revived his great-great-grandfather’s bourbon recipe and launched Bulleit Distilling Company. The mission was entirely self-funded, so Tom continued his law practice for the next decade.
The best time to get crafty is after you’ve drunk a handle of bourbon
Those bottles are works of (protected) art
The company is protective of its distinctive, vintage-style packaging. Bulleit sued competitor Redemption whiskey for trademark infringement in federal court earlier this year. Redemption recently underwent a rebrand from a cylindrical bottle to “a clear, canteen shaped bottle with rounded shoulders and embossed brand name above the label,” according Diageo’s suit.
You now can drink it straight from the source
The company didn’t have a proprietary distillery until this year. In March 2017, Bulleit debuted its $115 million plant in Shelbyville, Kentucky, about 30 miles west of Louisville. The new distillery can produce up to 1.8 million proof gallons annually.
It’s Bulleit’s world. We’re just living in it.
This bottlerocket listed annual sales of 500,000 nine-liter cases per year in late 2015, according to Louisville Business First, and IRI reported the brand grew dollar sales in stores by 17.8 percent in the year ending May 14, 2017. It’s now ranked 12th among whiskies, right behind Johnnie Walker, a fellow Diageo brand that began blending scotch in 1865.