Received Goods: Bulleit Rye Whiskey

There is a ridiculously dorky youtube phenomenon called “unboxing”. When a tech geek gets a fancy new gizmo or game, they make a video of themselves opening up the box. Weird, eh? Well, I thought it might be funny to apply the same to booze. I am a booze geek, after all.

I know the conventions of “unboxing” are usually that you talk about the thing while you open it. But I figured, I’d just show making a cocktail, instead.

When life gives you Rye Whiskey, make Sazeracs!

And a fine Sazerac it does make.

Trying it on it’s own, I found it to be surprising mellow, though it did lack a real finish or presence in the glass.

Still, for around $25 for 750ml, the Bulleit Rye is not a bad deal at all for a mixing Rye Whiskey.

If you have sharp eyes, you will notice that is a big bag of Meyer Lemons some friends gave me from the tree in their back yard. Meyer Lemon Peel, not exactly kosher for Sazeracs, as their zest has a sort of weird Thyme and white pepper-like scent.

Still a tasty Sazerac, if a bit culinarily herbal.

Music in the background from Mr. Colin Stetson‘s new release, “New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges“.

Questions and addenda:

Mahon McGrath, Q: “While it definitely isn’t a powerhouse or complex, it IS nice to see a decent new rye come on the market at around $20.”

A: “It would be pretty interesting to do a blind tasting of all the Ryes produced at LDI and see which came out on top. But, I agree, the Bulleit Rye is a good product and it’s very nice to see the company choosing to market it at a reasonable price point.”

Ben, Q: “Sorry that the the Bulleit Rye didn’t impress more – I had high hopes for it. I’m hoping to discover that our opinions differ when I get my hands on it. You should try the Redemption releases if you haven’t yet – their rye is 95% rye grain in the mash (like Bulleit), their high rye bourbon is ~36% rye (if memory serves), and they price around $26-29 a bottle. Love to know what you think about these. I like them a lot, and would put up the Redemption Rye up against the pricier Templeton (the other rye I have right now).

“Since we have a Meyer Lemon tree in our yard, that’s what has been going in my Sazeracs and Vieux Carrés (and the wife’s Sidecars and Lemon Drops). I’ll have to do a taste test against other lemons – Eureka from the market or Ponderosa from a friend’s tree…”

A: “Bulleit, Redemption, Templeton, and Willet all get their Rye Whiskey from LDI in Lawrenceburg, IN, none of them are distilling this spirit themselves.. You can tell from the signature 95% Rye, 5% Barley mashbill. High West also gets some of the Rye they use for their Vatted (Blended?) Whiskeys from LDI.

“I need to rewrite this post a bit, it comes off too negative. There are a lot of things to like about Bulleit, first off being the price. Among the Ryes in the $20-30 price range, I think only Rittenhouse stands out as the only one I would buy instead of Bulleit. And there are a bunch of Ryes in the $30-40 range I would pick it over. So it isn’t bad at all.

“It’s just I’ve been drinking a lot of high quality pot still whiskeys lately, and the Bulleit Rye just doesn’t hold a candle to the length and interest you get from those, mixing or sipping. YMMV.”

From Scott Brown, Q: “Almost bout a bottle of this today as it just showed up in our shops in Connecticut, how is it as an evening dram to sip?”

A: “Scott, a friend and I did a tasting of several Ryes last night and found the Bulleit to be the least complex of the bunch. Not harsh or unpleasant in any way, but to us it lacked the complexity you’d look for in a “sipping” spirit.

“That said, if I could only spend around $20 for a good all around Rye, and couldn’t get Rittenhouse Bonded, I would probably pick the Bulleit. In fact, there are probably several ryes in the $30-40 range that I would pass over for the Bulleit.”

BOTW–Velvet Merkin

Right, well, this is sort of my St. Patrick’s Day Post… The Irish love a good shaggy dog story, right?

At Alembic Bar, they would occasionally have the Firestone-Walker beer “Velvet Merkin” on tap. A very nice California Oatmeal Stout with a hilarious name.

I leave it to you, to discover the rather Not Safe For Work nature of the meaning of “Merkin”.

Just this winter, I found Firestone-Walker had finally bottled what I thought was “Velvet Merkin”. This amused me to no end, and I had to buy a six pack tout de suite. Thinking Firestone-Walker had managed to slip one past the TTB, I posted the news to facebook, “Velvet Merkin in bottles! Looks like someone at the TTB forgot to bring their dictionary to work!” Unfortunately, Dan Miller, (of Sloshed!,) deflated my enjoyment by pointing out the beer was now called “Velvet Merlin”.

Looked in the fridge. Sure enough the beer had gone from Burlesque to Renaissance Faire. “Velvet Merlin”? Really? That is just soooo lame.

Well, despite the pathetic sorcerous nature of the new name, the beer is still tasty.

At 5.5% ABV, Velvet Merlin is a nice change from the usual over alcoholic Imperial Stouts so popular these days with American Craft brewers. Good flavor, too, and nice body. All the things you look for in an Oatmeal Stout. It will definitely put some hair on your… Well… Uh, chin. Yeah, that’s it. Chin.