Review: Bulleit American Single Malt Whiskey

Review: Bulleit American Single Malt Whiskey

While plenty of smaller, craft brands have been flooding the market with American Single Malt (ASM) whiskey over the last few years, the big boys of American whiskey have been releasing their own expressions at a comparative trickle. Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s hopped on the ASM train last year, and now Bulleit has joined them.

I’ll admit, I didn’t expect Bulleit to bring a single malt to market quite this soon, if ever. Their lineup is one of the leanest in the industry, and it’s always been pretty conservative. Ever seen a finished Bulleit? A toasted Bulleit? But kudos to them for taking something of a risk on this latest addition to the portfolio, Bulleit American Single Malt. Then again, parent company Diageo is a juggernaut of single malt Scotch, so maybe it’s not that surprising.

As with other Bulleit expressions, we don’t know where this one was produced. Their distillery in Shelbyville has been humming along for seven years now, so presumably it could have made this whiskey, but if it did they aren’t advertising it on the bottle (the back label indicates only “Bottled by the Bulleit Distilling Co.”). Wherever it was produced, it was made with 100% malted barley and aged in new, charred American oak barrels for at least four years. Let’s give it a whirl.

I would have expected a bigger slug of oak on the nose, but the aroma is surprisingly delicate for a single malt aged in new oak. Initial notes of golden hay, barley husks, and a bit of lemon peel are subtle, giving way as it opens to a bit more barrel with a hint of oak, some muted pie spice, and a vanilla bean note that seems the only real sign of any sweetness. The palate is light and rather dry with more measured barrel notes in the mix. Early flavors of sawdust and ginger transition to barley sugar and cocoa powder on the midpalate, while the finish is short and clean with notes of baked pear and clove syrup.

While I wouldn’t classify this one as exciting, it’s clearly a well-made and interesting addition to the category of American Single Malt. Craft producers have tended to imbue a diversity of flavor into their single malts with specialty grain and unique maturation programs, partly in an effort to distinguish their products from bourbon and rye. Bulleit’s inaugural single malt feels considerably less adventurous, even compared to what we’ve seen from Beam and Brown-Forman. I suppose that speaks to where we’re heading in the age of American single malt with bigger brands betting on the future and vying to be your everyday drinker.

90 proof.


Bulleit American Single Malt Whiskey




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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