Vanilla. You know it is coming in this review but amongst all the fun jibes here at MALT, we’re interested in the whisky, or whiskey to be precise. Regardless of where it originates from, the soil, the barley, the style of distillation or cask. We’re here for the liquid, the aromas, the experience and a few bonus Christmas cracker jokes.
Vanilla remains the undisputed core characteristic of American whiskey and rye is the more flavoursome end of the spectrum. Truth be told, I had the majority of this review all planned out in my head prior to even tasting the liquid, but at the supermarket checkout, things took a turn for the unexpected.
The store assistant expertly removed the security bottle tag, only to unleash the immediate smell of whiskey across our groceries. Even the outer plastic seal itself was very easy to twist. A leaking bottle was the immediate summary. Would I like a replacement bottle? Ok, why not eh? All of the bottles on the shelf were fairly dusty so they had been sitting there idly for some time or possibly had been stored elsewhere wrongly.
Normally this Bulleit 95 Rye Frontier whiskey retails in the UK for around £30. For whatever reason, it had been reduced to the enticing bargain price of £17.52. That’s quite a blitz on the entry fee and we all love a bargain. This being actually a real bargain and not an initially inflated price that has been chopped to falsely lure in unsuspecting punters. Luckily there was a 2nd bottle to pick, the replacement fill level looked slightly higher and there was no repeat of the vanilla aroma invasion once the security tag was unlocked.
Thinking no more of the incident, I returned home happy with the bargain purchase and a pending trip down the vanilla lane. Then I found the root of the problem. Removing the seal, the cork stopper revealed itself to be fairly ineffective. Almost clinging on for dear life with a last gasp of breath, before plummeting into the vanilla abyss below. Ok, I embellish a little I’ll admit, but over the years in whisky or whiskey, a good cork and therefore the seal is of primary importance. So much so that I have a stash of good corks for moments like these. Recently, I’ve noticed several bottle purchases have lacked a quality stopper. Corners being cut? Are overheads being reduced? It’s an interesting observation as my own opened stock is kept in ideal conditions and monitored, but lately, some corks have been losing their zeal in quick fashion. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience?
Seal aside let’s get into this Frontier Rye. The brand does have historical origins but this modern day equivalent was revived in 1987 by Tom Bulleit, the great great grandson of the founder. It proved to be a successful venture and today the Bulleit brand resides within the Diageo portfolio. Perhaps explaining its excellent distribution outside of North America. The 95 accounts for the percentage of rye in the mash with the remainder being malted barley. Bottled at 45% strength, this is distilled at MGP or Midwest Grain Products of Indiana, who produce a huge variety of distillates for their private customers. Diageo being their biggest client that this massive made-to-order producer caters for.
Bulleit 95 Rye Frontier Whiskey – review
On the nose: not offensive and a lovely creamy vanilla, some wafer as well. Cousin caramel is present as well, black pepper crackers and waxed apples. A brief touch of varnish, marzipan, sweet cinnamon and butterscotch. Water isn’t needed necessarily and reveals a cherry note, then walnuts with added orange.
In the mouth: pleasant with a sweet vanila influence and a creamy caramel. Drinkable and inoffensive. Not a swashbuckling rye by any stretch of the imagination. More black pepper, milk chocolate and candied orange. A hint of tobacco provides some joy as well as cherry menthol. Adding water brings out red grapes and rhubarb.
A solid experience overall, whether at home as a sipper or the basis of a cocktail. If the everyday price was under £20 then I’d be scoring this Bulleit rye 5/10, seeing how this isn’t the case it’ll be a 4, which isn’t shabby. Always remember to check out our scoring criteria to put our honest appraisal into context.
Lead image from the Whisky Exchange. We also have commission links within this review. These never affect or influence our opinion.