In 1987 Tom Bulleit abandoned a successful career as a lawyer in Lexington, Kentucky, to revive a bourbon recipe invented by his great-great grandfather, Augustus, around 1830. The original recipe had a high proportion of rye in its mash bill – so high that it was technically a rye whiskey – and while Tom Bulleit reduced the proportion of rye to 28% (with 68% corn [maize] and 4% barley malt), this is still unusually high for a straight bourbon and differentiates the whiskey from other bourbons.
The standard expression is also aged for six years, rather than the more common three years – only a handful of straight bourbons make an age statement – which makes Bulleit Bourbon 10 year old very special. It is Tom Bulleit’s select reserve, with individual barrels identified and set aside for extra maturation.
Until 2016 there was no Bulleit Distillery. Tom commissioned his whiskey from other distilleries - after 1997 (when the brand was bought by the giant Canadian distiller, Seagram) from Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg. Ownership passed to Diageo when that company bought the majority of Seagram’s alcohol-related assets in 2001, but they continued to distil at Four Roses, which was now owned by the Japanese brewer, Kirin.