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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Yes, I'm plugging my blog, but I only do it when there is a long post I don't want to re-post here, that I think Straight Bourbonians will want to read.

    The post "Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?" is here.

    The gist of it is that Four Roses makes Bulleit, or so we've long been told, originally for itself when both the Bulleit brand and the Four Roses Distillery were owned by Seagram's, and since 2002 on behalf of Diageo.

    Now sources at Kirin/Four Roses are saying maybe not. Diageo takes their whiskey but they don't have any way to know what Diageo does with it, and, they say, organoleptic testing confirms that Bulleit is not 100 percent Four Roses-made whiskey.

    But there's a lot more to it than that. If you want to comment, feel free to do so there or here.

  2. #2
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Chuck,

    the first time I tasted Bulleit was in 2004. I was not impressed by the industrial quality to the nose and flavor of the product. It did not leave me with many reasons to revisit my first impressions. After having refined my pallet a little since then...I can theorize that the rye was young and one dimensional...I don't remember there being much barrel flavor to tame the young grain, either.


    After having visited Four Roses I can say that it is my opinion that it is not fully Four Roses distillate, though I have not tasted every individual distillate that Four Roses produces, which number 30, if you take into account the three barrel proofs that they barrel to.

    Four Roses has really wonderful flavors that don't seem as harsh as the Bulleit. If we could find out more information regarding how the bourbon was transfered between the two companies...I think we could narrow down the options as to age, yeast, barrel proof, and other factors. I do know that they (Diageo) receives the bottom 40% of the distillate made at the facility. Also, Four Roses has not produced any bourbon recently that graded below 3 on their scale of 4. So, they have really made their product consistently good in the recent past. Diageo was receiving 2 before the improvements were made to consistency.

    So, has anyone tasted a flight of Bulleit? How consistent has the product been made in the past? I know of two distilleries that have produced Bulleit....how many are their really? What is the real recipe for Bulleit...there has to be a list of specs, right?

    I'll let some others chime in....while my fingers rest.
    ______________________________

    Jeff Mo.

  3. #3
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Chuck - great info and thanks for sharing. I just set up a Google Reader for tracking some Blogs and yours was the first I subscribed.

    "organoleptic" - I had to look this one up. I agree with Jeff - with all the combinations Four Roses can produce, it would seem hard to pinpoint the source using organoleptics.

  4. #4
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    "organoleptic" - I had to look this one up. I agree with Jeff - with all the combinations Four Roses can produce, it would seem hard to pinpoint the source using organoleptics.

    I figured that organoleptic was fancy talk fer swillin sum down yer gullet?
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  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by wadewood View Post
    Chuck - great info and thanks for sharing. I just set up a Google Reader for tracking some Blogs and yours was the first I subscribed.

    "organoleptic" - I had to look this one up. I agree with Jeff - with all the combinations Four Roses can produce, it would seem hard to pinpoint the source using organoleptics.
    I tend to agree. With all the differences between the aging locations, possible barreling proofs, water used for the cut at bottling...it'd be hard to say whether they were the same base white dog or not.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  6. #6
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by mozilla View Post
    I was not impressed by the industrial quality to the nose and flavor of the product. It did not leave me with many reasons to revisit my first impressions.
    I agree and also have not tasted it in quite some time.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Not counting its original production at Buffalo Trace, Bulleit when it was a Seagram's product was 100 percent Four Roses whiskey. Since 2002, 4R has been selling a portion of its production, by contract, to Diageo. Either the contract is for a set quantity and as 4R has gradually increased production the share going to Diageo has gone down, or the contracted quantity decreases each year, or maybe both. I was told not long ago but I don't recall by whom that everything Four Roses supplies to Diageo is going into Bulleit, which is why Diageo is also buying from Beam, Tom Moore (formerly Barton), and Brown-Forman.

    The original Seagram's Bulleit and even some of the post-sale product was entirely aged at 4R's Lotus, but more recently Diageo has taken white dog and done the barrel entry and aging at Stitzel-Weller in Shively. This isn't true just for the Four Roses distillate but for everything they buy.

    The people who are telling me it's not all Four Roses whiskey in the Bulleit bottle are people who are in a position to know. I can't say any more than that.

    The logical explanation is that 4R will only sell them so much whiskey and the Bulleit brand has grown to the point where that's not enough, so they're mixing in enough non-4R whiskey to make up the difference. It's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, so there's nothing illegal being alleged. It might even be the same formula, as presumably Diageo, and not Kirin, owns the yeast strain, but maybe that was transferred too. At any rate, the people they're buying from can make Diageo's recipe, that's not a problem.

    I know those yeasts were proprietary yeasts developed and owned by Seagram's, and obviously Four Roses has the right to use them, but I don't know who actually owns them. There's no way for me to find that out unless somebody slips a copy of the contract under my door.
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-10-2008 at 21:02.

  8. #8
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    Diageo has never really made much sense to me. The bourbon business is skryocketing, you already have an idle distillery that everyone would foam at the mouth to see reopen, your bottling line is bottling not only yours but others products and now your buying from multiple other sources and aging the new make in your own warehouses. If all of this weren't enough, you own 27 malt and 3 grain distilleries in Scotland which are in the midst of at least $200 million worth of expansion amongst them that I have personally read about, not to mention all the other brands you own/produce that are at or near the top of their category. If you, Diageo, are such a brilliantly run corporation, why in the hell hasn't it yet occurred to you to spend some money, get SW enviromentally up to standard and open it back up? Every time I drive by the place and see it sitting idle, it makes me want to totally puke!

    Thomas

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    The most I've gotten anyone at Diageo to say to me is, "Before long we're going to have to do something."

    The kicker is, when they sold out in 1999 it didn't necessarily seem like a bad decision, mainly because their brands were not world beaters. But now they have Bulleit, and even though Seagram's Seven and Crown Royal don't contain much bourbon (about 37% and 9%, respectively), they're both growing too. They've also got a good I. W. Harper business overseas and that may be growing too.

    Apparently getting SW up again is more expensive than it might otherwise be because there is an asbestos abatement issue in the distillery part, but that's one of the options. It wouldn't surprise me if Dave Pickerell suddenly showed up as the guy Diageo hires to put SW back in business, because that's always been a dream of his.

    On the other hand, maybe they won't do anything and all the people stoking up their bourbon production right now won't look so smart in 9 or 10 years either. You never really know for sure.
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-10-2008 at 22:41.

  10. #10
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    Re: Who Makes Bulleit Bourbon?

    I have commented on this before...and how I have some 90 proof bottles that I got from Australia, and it isn't bad bourbon.
    The stock we have now is 80 proof, has a screwcap, and is bottled in the UK.
    I am wondering if the bourbon is cut to 80 proof with water out of the Thames, as it sure tastes like it.

    I once emailed Jim Rutledge about it and he commented they (FR) didn't know what Diageo did with their whiskey once they had it, but always wanted more than they were getting. He said they probably cut it to 80 just to make it go further....

    Scott
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day" - Frank Sinatra

 

 

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