Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Bulleit Bourbon Single Barrel and a Smoke

Bulleit Bourbon is one of those staples that has a mostly permanent space on my shelves. The standard 90 proof bottle is great for sipping neat or in cocktails, and it can be easily found, in Virginia at least, for around $35. A while back, VA ABC had a limited release drop on a Saturday morning of single barrel bourbons and ryes from various distilleries. I found this Bulleit Bourbon Single Barrel on the store shelf the day after the drop. In talking to the store clerk I learned that Virginia received several hundred bottles to distribute, rather than the typical a few dozen bottles for the entire state.

The bourbon checks in at 104 proof. The release was promoted as being picked for, not by, VA ABC. The plentiful stock would indicate the release was not all bottled from the same single barrel, however there are no batch or barrel numbers listed on the label. The aroma is much like the standard expression, giving off classic bourbon notes of caramel and oak. The flavor presents vanilla, maple, caramel, all with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The long lingering finish of spice and sweetness was quite agreeable. I was immediately impressed with the richness of the flavors. It reminded me of the standard Bulleit bourbon but brighter and with a ramped up flavor profile.

To confirm my thoughts, I poured tasters of the regular Bulleit and also of the 10 year version. These are all bourbons I find very enjoyable. In side by side tastings, they all share very similar flavor profiles, with small, but noticeable, differences. The 91.2 proof 10 year old exhibited the most muted flavors of the three. There was a bit more oak aspect, but overall the bourbon seemed milder and lingered on the palate for less time. The standard and single barrel expressions were remarkably similar in flavors present, but the single barrel is much brighter and enhanced. The finish also remained around longer. Twice the flavor at (nearly) twice the price, and worth it in my opinion. None of this lessened my opinion of the other Bulleit bourbons. 

I chose a cigar with which I was wholly unfamiliar to smoke with the Bulleit Single Barrel. The Tobacco Tactical Dead Conqueror Alexander the Great Maduro was a selection in the June My Cigar Pack shipment. The cigar is a collaboration between Tobacco Tactical and My Cigar Pack, and may have been a one time release. Information on the cigar is limited. The 6 x 52 Toro features a very dark chocolate San Andrés wrapper and Domican binder and fillers. There is also a Corojo wrapper version.

The Dead Conqueror is medium bodied with notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and nuts. There is some spiciness to the smoke but the whole flavor profile is quite balanced, although somewhat muted. I guess this one goes to further disprove the false adage that the darker a cigar the more bitter and full flavored it will be. The same misconception is also frequently repeated regarding beer. I had expected the cigar to be more intensely flavored, and was somewhat surprised that it turned out to be more reserved. 

I was extremely pleased with the Bulleit Single Barrel purchase. In fact, while writing these notes I saw that my local ABC still has stock. Though tempted to pick up another, I think I'll now seek out other Bulleit single barrel picks during my travels. I had lower expectations for the Dead Conqueror smoke, but was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it so much. I do have one other, along with a couple in the Corojo version. Whether they will become available in the future is in question.


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