About – Founded by Tom Bulleit and now owned by Diageo, Bulleit bourbon is one the highest selling and most well known bourbons on the market today. It is known for its high rye content (28%) and its trademark bottle design. The whiskey in the bottle is actually distilled by Four Roses. The final product is aged around 6 years, bottled at 90 proof, and generally costs around $25.
Smell – Bright, floral, rye spice, wildflower honey, vanilla. All the classic bourbon smells are there along with a nice floral touch.
Taste – Very bright, even more so than the nose with citrus, caramel, and a healthy dose of oak forming the base for everything.
Finish – Long and woody leaving a cooling hint of mint behind
Score – 87
Verdict – Overall this is a very solid bourbon with nothing really jumping out either good or bad. That is what makes it a favorite of many bartenders. I would recommend it as a base whiskey for any home bar as well. At the $25 price point it is a bargain, especially when you take into account the crazy state of the bourbon market.
About – James E. Pepper is one of many historic bourbon brands that has been purchased and relaunched during the recent surge in bourbon popularity. The 1776 label dates back to the civil war and was even a favorite of Ulysses S. Grant as well as Andrew Jackson. The modern iteration is an extremely high rye recipe (38%) that is distilled for James E. Pepper by MGP. The finished product is aged 6 years and bottled at 92 proof with a price around $30- $35. This bourbon won the Double Golf Medal at the San Francisco Word Spirits Competition in 2013.
Smell – Dark fruit, mildly reminiscent of a dark red wine, an uncanny hint of smoke. It is clear from the nose that this is a very high rye content bourbon.
Taste – Not sure exactly what I was expecting, but the first taste was definitely a curveball, leading me to regroup and give this bourbon another go. One the second taste I am picking up dark honey and the dark fruit from the nose. If you can’t tell so far this bourbon leans on a deep, dark profile.
Finish – A decent amount of oak followed by a burst of characteristic rye spice, followed by more of the sweet dark fruit fading out slowly for a nice long and luscious finish.
Score – 86
Verdict – By no means is this your typical bourbon, but it is a tasty and unique poor. Due to the unique flavor profile I could see this bourbon being very polarizing, and would recommend trying it at a bar before picking up a bottle. It probably isn’t for everyone, but it does it for ,you tastes.