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Bulleit Bourbon - Barrel Strength:

Nose: I pick up notes of raisin and dried fruits and a bit of caramel and butterscotch (the last two, mainly in later sniffs). Oddly (because it is high proof), I didn’t pick up much alcohol. Palate: It starts off smooth and then quickly picks up steam, like a freight train. You don’t get the high proof right off the bat, but it doesn’t take long for it to catch up. As it seems to be with most high proofs, you don’t pick up much of anything except the heat on the first sip. Luckily, once your mouth gets over the shock, the second sip brings a lot of rye spiciness, a good degree of pepper, some honey, and some oaky notes. The mouthfeel is about medium and the finish is medium to long. The finish highlights the spice and you still get a lot of pepper. The heat, while certainly present, never reaches the point of harsh or overly burning. Comments: The mash bill on this is 68% corn, 28% rye and 4 % malted barley. This clocks in at 119 proof. I know some of you don’t like barrel strength, but I enjoy seeing what a whiskey is like before someone monkeys with it by adding water. That said, I think sipping this guy reminded me of something I almost hate to admit. I used to like the regular Bulleit quite a bit and thought it was a great deal for the money (it used to be sub-$20!). Over time, though, it has fallen a bit out of my favor. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it is just that there’s isn’t much going on with it. The barrel strength version highlights that as well. I want it to be more complex and more challenging to figure out what’s going on as I sip it….but it just falls short. Again, it isn’t bad and I would never turn down a glass if offered one, but I think it just doesn’t live up to potential. So, I would have a hard time recommending spending in the $50 range for it. I will say, that if you like a high rye bourbon, it still fits that bill nicely and you might enjoy it more than I did, because of my preference for more sweeter flavors. And, if you are a Bulleit mega-fan, you will probably really like this as well.

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